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Monday, July 27, 2009

County Tax Office Report: Pleasant...

Doing routine things like going to the DMV or the tax office are pure Blogger fodder for must people who write online journals; you just know there will be something worth reporting back to the handful of readers who tune in for the latest adventure. But really, my trip to the downtown San Antonio office of the Bexar (pronounced Bear for those of you not from Texas) County tax assessor/collector office was actually not that horrendous.

This all started with my son ordering new plates for his car - the fancy Native Texan version. Hey, live like you wanna live, but the only problem is, my son currently lives in Florida, and Sylvia
S. Romo, CPA, RTA (and I'm not sure if she is related to Tony Romo or not) wasn't about to just send them via FedEx, so I had to go down to pick them up. I don't mind stuff like this, as long as there isn't some sort of glitch.

So, I leave work and take the short drive to the tax office. I had checked out their web page in advance and found that they closed at 4:45, so when I rolled in the front door at 4:15, I was pretty cool with things. Then I saw the TSA-like screening area. You have got to be kidding? Of course as soon as I emptied my pockets to fill the little basket with my wallet, watch, security badges, unit coin, comb, keys, business cards, lint and lock-blade pocket knife, I figured there might be a problem. Sure enough, the nice armed woman, Glock at the ready, informed me that the knife would have to go back to the car.

I complied.
Now it was close to 4:20 and I was nervous that there might be some other glitches. But I passed through the security section with no additional body cavity search or pocket emptying needed and proceeded to the line of at least twenty-five or so people. You might be interested to know that as we got closer to 4:30, two different ladies went through the long line of people looking at their paperwork to identify any problems before the people stood in line for the duration only to find they had a problem. Oh sure, this was done as much to help the employees who want to go home for the evening as it was to help the people waiting, but either way, what a great thing to do to save time for everyone.

In my case, my son had faxed me a letter authorizing me to pick up his plates, sent a copy of his insurance and a photocopy of his driver license. I apparently had all I needed. But at least two other people in line failed the test and were spared the long wait only to have a bad outcome.

Then as I continued to wait, creeping slowly along (naturally, the people who had jacked-up paperwork were behind me in line, not in front) I saw a sign that was posted saying that no credit cards were accepted. Nice!

Immediately, I called my son to question him as to whether or not I was going to need to pay any money to get his plates. That would have been pretty upsetting if I had waited in line only to have the lady tell me I owed $56 or something like that. Hey, feel free to rob me, I never have more than $20 in my wallet. I have a wife for stuff like that.

He assured me that as far as he knew, it was all paid for, so I continued my wait in line. And then things started to slow down.

Have you ever noticed that if you are standing in line it really pisses you off if you see employees standing around chatting? Oh sure, not every person who works at the tax office is supposed to be manning a customer service window, but in your mind, if they work there, they ought to be able to help you. The strangest thing happened. When I first walked in, it seemed as though every window had a person waiting on people. They even had a special handicapped window to handle disabled people. Then, as the clock struck 4:30 - fully 15 minutes before operations were to cease, clerks began to disappear, and as available windows closed, obviously, the line slowed down.
I wish I had full motion, time-lapsed video to show the process unfold. Sadly, I can only offer these pictures I discreetly snapped with my phone. Yes, I left the camera in the truck for fear that it might be confiscated as a weapon of mass destruction by Glock-lady. (By they way, Glock-lady would be a good title for a superhero.)

I kid you not; these positions had been fully manned (actually womanned) only moments earlier, and with still at least 20 people in line, they simply un-assed the AO.

Look, I don't want to complain, but don't you think that it would be more efficient for everyone to keep the full staff until closing time to get all the customers taken care of - then we can all go home sooner?

Then again, I used to work at McDonald's and I remember closing all the grills except for one just so when we closed we could finish sooner. The only thing is, we were stupid. As an hourly employee, it would have been smarter to to take longer to close the place and get paid more. Damn, I was stupid.

In the end, my son ganked me for almost $10 because the lady at the window suggested I pay to pro-rate a few months and get a new sticker for the tags. He gets an extra two months and his new Native Texan plates and all I got was a Monday blog entry.

How was your latest visit to the tax office? Have you been frisked by the Glock-lady? Tell me about it or leave a comment below.


Anon E. Mouse said...

That's why I always have them transfer the stuff to the remote satellite office on Bandera Rd (now at Guilbeau Rd & Bandera) where there is usually a shorter line, no body search or metal detector, etc.

The problem with the main location downtown, is they also have law enforcement offices (Sheriff Internal Affairs), voter registration, and the tax office dispute center where you got to challenge your property taxes owed. So they have a higher level of security similar to the county courthouse or justice center.

Sabra said...

When I went to renew my tags early this year, I inadvertently got into the property tax line instead of the vehicle registration one. Should've asked beforehand, but I realized my error after standing in line only a few minutes.

This being January, the property tax line was long enough they'd broken part of it off and started sending people to another area across the hall. No real problem with that, but the short time I was standing in line, the deputy manning the metal detector had to redirect two or three people to the end of the property tax line.

That said, I didn't notice the no credit card thing but the woman at the window was happy to let me take two minutes to hit the ATM they're smart enough to keep in the lobby.

Deep Forest said...

yeah...why did you go all the way downtown ?????

Dave said...

"yeah...why did you go all the way downtown?"

That's where the specialized plates were. My son ordered them online and that was where they told him to pick them up.

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San Antonio, TX, United States
I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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