This morning, I needed to go to the county tax offices to get some information for work. The office is not far from my house by Houston standards, but depending on traffic could take up to an hour. Without traffic, fifteen minutes. Good 'ole Houston traffic. So I waited until after the traffic cleared, which left me two and a half hours to get there and back before Emmi got out of school. No problem. Ha.
As I walked into the main lobby, one of the many women behind the main desk called out to me. "Can I help you, ma'am?" I smiled. Thank goodness. No line. I was going to be out of here in five minutes. Piece of cake.
"I need Appraisal Cards for these four accounts." I flashed a paper with the account numbers.
"You need what?" She balked, smacking her gum. "Hey, Lavonda, you know what an Appraisal Card is?"
"A WHAT?" Lavonda didn't even bother turning around in her chair to look at me. "Honey, you can try the third floor desk. Maybe they knows what you be talkin' 'bout." She motions to the elevators.
Three floors later, the elevator door opens to a lobby with another desk. Above the desk is a sign, indicating that I should take a number. Before, grabbing a number, I approach the desk. I want to make sure I am in the right place before I sit in this line.
"Can I help you?" The girl behind the desk practically barks at me. I put on my sweetest smile.
"I just would like to know if I am in the right spot."
"Do you have a question? Because if you do, you are in the right spot. This is Customer Service." Oh well. Self explanatory. How stupid am I? I mean customer service, I should have known. Because customer service is the be all and end all. I try to maintain a smile, though I now want to smack the bitch.
"Well, you see, I need Appraisal Cards or they may be known as Appraisal Roll Cards. Downstairs no one knew what it was, so they were not sure if this is where I should go."
"I have no idea what you are talking about. You just need to take a number, and wait your turn." She turns away from me, calling out "SIXTY-NINE."
Oh. Okay. That makes perfect sense. I should wait in line, so you can again tell me that you have no idea what I am looking for. That sounds peachy. Especially after waiting behind the twenty plus people in this line. I grab my number, and stomp off to wait.
"Number SEVENTY!" Another clerk has become available. I glance at my number. Seventy-Seven. Oh thank goodness! Only seven more people. And five clerks. This should go quickly.
The clerk on the end finishes up. I wait for the sweet sound of "seventy-one," but instead she stands up. "I'm going to take a break," she says to the woman next to her. She heads out the door.
A few minutes pass. Another clerk finishes, and she too stands up. Don't panic there are still three of them. One by one, they all finish helping the person they are currently with, and head out the door. Noooooo. There is one clerk left. I hear the person in front her thank her for her time. I cross my fingers and pray that she does not head out the door, also. Instead she calls seventy-one. Seventy-one has a huge stack of papers. And two women who can't seem to understand for the ninth time that the tax office has nothing to do with your deed. They need to go to another office. But they keep trying to explain what they need like it's suddenly going make her say, "Shit, I forgot. We do change deeds." They proceed for ten more minutes. The room becomes more crowded.
A woman comes in, with I kid you not, her FIVE children all under the age of four. None of them twins. The two oldest have jelly sandwiches. They sit next to me. Two minutes pass before kid number two smears jelly on me. Oh come on. I am wearing REAL pants. Not even jeans. Actual slacks. Work clothes. The stuff that never sees the outside of my closet because I work from home. These pants have been clean for THREE years, and it takes you two minutes to get jelly on me?! I scoot over three seats. Child number two likes me, though. She scoots down with me. I give the mother a look. A look that I hopes says, "Please get your sticky child away from me." I try paying no attention to the kid. She climbs in my lap. I gently put her down. She climbs back in my lap. Her mother smiles. "She likes you." Yes, lady, I can see that. Now remove her from me. RIGHTTHISFUCKINGMINUTE.
Forty-five minutes passes with child number two still climbing all over m. Slowly the numbers tick by. "SEVENTY-SEVEN." I feel like cheering. I practically skip to the desk.
"Good morning, ma'am. I need Appraisal Cards for four accounts. Here are the account numbers." She stares at me.
"I don't know what an Appraisal Card is."
I was prepared. In my forty-five minute wait, I called the office to see if perhaps they could give a detailed description of the Appraisal Card, so that I could do these people's job for them. I launch into my explanation. She still looks perplexed. She calls to a supervisor. The supervisor is also confused. They tell me they do not have anything like that. I explained that yes they did. They were required to maintain that information. They stare at each other some more. Finally, they decide to give me a print out of the detail screen from their website. Thanks, Schmucks. I could have done that from home.
I made it home with three minutes to spare before Emmi's bus. Two hours, twenty eight minutes, four papers I don't need, and a jelly stain on my pants. Yippee.