Shake Down At the IRS

On a mission without permission

By Al Carlos Hernandez
Published on LatinoLA: April 13, 2003

Shake Down At the IRS

First of all, I don?t get myself in ridiculous situations just so I have something to write about, but when you adopt a certain demeanor and an expressionistic lifestyle there is a downside and often times it feels like discrimination.

Friday is my real day off. That is the day I clear my head by riding my motorcycle, often times doing errands or as my wife calls them "mandados." Which in English translates to mandates.

I was on a mission without permission, my objective was to ride into downtown to the Federal Building and pay an urgent IRS bill for our business. Parking as you know downtown is outrageous, two dollars for every 20 minutes. If you ride a cycle, you can park at a bike meter for two hours for 10 cents. That?s what I?m talking about.

The plan was perfect and I found a space very close to the facility, but because of the neighborhood I opted to carry my helmet with me. I didn?t want to come back from doing business only to see some homeless cat wearing my helmet, directing traffic in his pajamas.

Having been to the IRS Federal Building before, I knew there was security, but this was before 9-11 and Saddam's beat down by Coalition warriors last week.

Like Double Dutch jump rope, I caught my rhythm as I goose-stepped through the spinning revolving door, spitting me out the other side with keys in hand. All eyes were on me, as there was a wall of security guards.

Trying not to look like chopper-riding terrorist, I tried to look pleasant, but smiling makes me looks inebriated. As the line moved quickly, I tossed the keys onto the conveyor belt and strolled through the metal detector.

Then it beeped.

They directed me to go through again. Second trip, off goes the money clip. Third trip, off comes the belt. Then my pants started falling down.

They then asked me, as I held up the line, for a picture ID. I flashed them my driver?s license which ironically had a picture of me looking shot to the curb.

The mugs matched.

Ordered to remove my shoes, and happy that I wore clean socks, I held my helmet in one hand my pants up with the other. Trying to gather my wardrobe and whatever was left of my dignity, they confiscated my car keys because of a small LL Bean utility knife two inches long on my key chain. I was allowed through, though.

While struggling with my Levis smashing on my boots, I looked to the right where there was a construction worker sitting on a chair trying to get his stuff back on, angry that he knew he had to go through the same drill across the street. ?They will have me down to my skivvies at the State building. Maybe if we dressed like punks in suits we wouldn?t have to go through all this,? he spat.

I found the right room and stood in the information line. The IRS is very much like the DMV, only with the threat of Federal jail time. The line multiplied quickly. As I knelt down to lace up my boots, three people cut the line in front on me. The woman at the desk was efficient.

I guess IRS workers are under a new mandate to pretend like they are nice and helpful.

Finally I was in the Express No Waiting Pay The Government What You Owe Them Line. No one was there but a large pink box of donuts.

Another line formed behind me. Soon a Latina walks up from behind me to the counter and rings a bell. An IRS worker gets mad at me as the woman slipped back into line. ?Someone will be with you in a minute, OK??

Dude it wasn?t me?

She snuck up again and rang the bell. This time, someone popped up and helped her. She was a master at line cutting and I was proud of her. As my luck would have it, the same guy who thought I was the bellringer waited on me. Suffice to say I should have brought a cashier's check, rather than the normal check I brought based. Buat I made him give me a receipt anyway.

Looking back at the experience I don?t blame the security guys for giving me grief. In hindsight, I did look suspicious, and it wasn?t until later that I remembered that I had my sunglasses on the whole time.

About Al Carlos Hernandez:
Al Carlos owes the IRS several thousands.

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