And now, part 2: As I was saying, I’d gone to get license tabs ...
“Wait a minute,” you say. “I’m supposed to remember what appeared in this space last week? Do you think we take notes and discuss the subject over dinner?”
Sorry. To recap: Last week I recounted a trip to the DMV, which usually runs smoothly, that went awry because they were booked through February. I left the paperwork and a check with a clerk and hoped for the best. Now, the rest of the story.
I got a call that said I’d written the check for the wrong amount, and they can’t let that slide because the state already is short of revenue and the governor is dipping into the rainy day fund to cover basic services.
Sigh. So I went back, without an appointment, because I figured owing the government money qualifies as a pre-existing condition and they’d wave me right in. As it turns out, the wrong amount was not of my doing. The licensing program, which I believe cost $37 billion and has gone 17 seconds without making a mistake, had tacked $8 on my bill.
“It’s a glitch in the new system,” said the helpful fellow behind the counter. “You didn’t do anything wrong.”
“Hold on, let me get my phone,” I told him. “I want you to say, ‘I represent the state of Minnesota, and you didn’t do anything wrong.’ This will be handy in domestic discussions.”
Apparently they can’t do that for “legal” reasons or something.
But all was not lost. I realized that we had just discovered the solution to any and all budget worries: the Glitch. You get a property tax bill, pay it, and then they call you up and say there’s a problem with your payment. Your heart stops: Now they will take my house! What’s the matter?
“Well, we have this new system ...”
(Immediate sigh of sympathy from taxpayer) “Say no more! Heck, we’ve all been there! You install a new OS on your phone, and all your old passwords are gone. I was standing outside an airport in San Francisco trying to get an Uber, and I wasn’t logged in. Took me a few minutes to figure that out. I’m totally on board with this whole new system thing. So, it means I get an extension on paying?”
(Clerk issues a rueful chuckle) “Nnnnnnot exactly. I mean, not at all. Turns out there’s a glitch. Well, it’s actually the result of an earlier glitch.”
“So it’s a son of a glitch.”
“You could say that, if you were writing for a family newspaper.”
“And unless I pay the Glitch Levy, I’m in arrears?”
“Right, but you do get 18 square inches of new sidewalk. It’s an extra $9. I apologize. But it’s ...”
“A glitch, I know.”
In the end, I paid the extra $8 because I didn’t want my wife pulled over for bum tabs and have the cop come up to the window and say, “Do you know why I pulled you over? And don’t start with anything about a glitch.”
What’s the point of this story? I’m saying all this to prepare you for a headline that says, “State budget in the black,” and they quote a guy named Harold T. Glitch.