From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Friday, April 25, 2008

A Zealous Pessimist

Bad news is good news.



ClothThis evening, at WalMart's $1.00-per-yard fabric sale, I waited a long time to have my fabric cut. Half a dozen Mennonite women were ahead of me, as well as several other ladies.

One lady, about my age, had a shopping cart full of fabric bolts. As we waited, she did a lot of talking. First she talked to the Mennonite ladies. When it was their turn to have their fabric cut, she turned to the rest of us and continued her broadcast:

Taxes are too high, and government services are inadequate. The Great Depression will return soon, and only the elderly are tough enough to survive it. Politicians are crooked, so voting does no good. The neighbors are immoral, dishonest, and lazy. The garden fails every year. The weather will turn dry any day, and we won't have rain until next winter. (Etc.)

As the woman preached on and on, a couple of ladies in the line began to chime in like a Greek chorus. "That's right! It happens every time!" I listened with growing irritation at her pessimistic attitude. I didn't like being in the captive audience. I had a strong desire to argue with her, but I read the information on several packs of sewing needles instead.

Then she made a public service announcement: If anyone needs appliances or electronics, they should shop in Tennessee this weekend. It's a tax-free weekend there. The prices will still be much too high, but it's a good chance to avoid paying the sales tax.

I decided not to let this pass. "Actually, you're supposed to pay Kentucky tax on any tax-free purchases that you use in Kentucky," I said firmly. "There's a place to report it on your Kentucky income tax form."

The zealous pessimist was taken aback. "I've never heard that before," she sputtered.

"What happens when you buy a car in another state and don't pay sales tax on it?" I asked. "When you go to the county clerk's office to license it, don't they collect Kentucky sales tax on it?"

"That's right," one of the chorus ladies chimed in. "It happened to me."

"All internet purchases, catalog purchases, and out-of-state purchases that are tax free must be reported," I proclaimed. "I know some people who were audited, and they had to pay a penalty for not reporting their internet purchases on their Kentucky taxes."

"Who's next?" called one of the clerks. The talkative woman shot forward and lifted a bolt of fabric onto the cutting table. "Nine and a half yards," she told the clerk.

Later, I sat on a stool, looking through the books of sewing patterns. I heard the woman's voice in a nearby aisle. "You might think you're getting a good deal when you shop in Tennessee on their tax-free weekend, but you're not," she said to an unidentified victim . "You still have to pay sales tax if you bring it back to Kentucky. There's a place to report it on your income tax form. You just can't win."

I hadn't realized that I was providing fodder.

8 comments:

Alissa said...

Some people just can't be happy. It's sad, but true.

Lesa said...

I loved the part about you reading the sewing needles package! I laughed out loud! Some people missed their calling in life to be radio announcers!

Sarabeth said...

Oh, but now she's educated with the pessimism. You did a bit of good, Genevieve.

As Lesa said, the part about you reading the package of sewing needles formed the perfect picture.

Genevieve said...

I read a quote recently about the negative force of pessimism. I don't remember who said it, but it goes something like this: "The opposite of a leader isn't a follower. It's a pessimist."

John Ruberry said...

I'll soon be paying more than 9 percent sales tax. Interestingly, I don't believe we have that law about out-of-state or internet purchases.

Glad you told off that nut.

Anonymous said...

This so called Free tax Weekend is no more than a typical govt joke.Or should I say nothing more than a scam to get you in the store.All you get free tax on is school items.I tried to buy a new tv to replace the old analog one.But that did not qualify.

ptg said...

Excellent. How much information can there be on a pack of needles?

Pessimism is a choice that can become a bad habit if you let it. Like whiskey.

Genevieve said...

You're right, PT. There's not much to read on the back of a pack of needles. In case anyone wonders, cereal boxes are much better reading material than needle packs.

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.