It's not about the house.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Tramp's Story, Part VIII: Evil is Easy

Con’t from previous post…

So I sent the forms in.

I called Maria first and told her I was going to send them in like she asked because Henry said it was okay, but that I couldn’t help but notice the name on the letter in the package wasn’t hers. She wheezed her answer, just like she always did.

“yeah things get shuffled around a lot but--"

“I understand,” I interrupted. Her simpering voice was really grating on my nerves. “I’m just wondering if the fax number it gives for her will also work for you.”

For those of you out there growing increasingly concerned: I thank you. But these forms I was faxing out into the nominal void were not deeds to my soul or anything. They were just – well, one of them I’ve forgotten what it was. Borrower’s Certification and Blood Oath or some such fucking thing. I don’t know, I didn’t read it. But I do still have it in an envelope around here, somewhere. I’m pretty sure I do, at least. I'm in bed, though, and it's cold. So you're nuts if you think I'm getting out and looking for it now.

Anyway, the other one I definitely remember. I don't know what it was called, of course, but it wanted me to check a box per my employment: was I a W-2 employee, it wanted to know (i.e., for you foreigners out there: was I employed by an actual company getting actual paychecks with actual taxes taken out of them. As if.) or was I self-employed.

Honestly, I don’t remember which box I checked. This is always a tricky question for me. I work for My Lady, of course, so I don’t consider me self-employed -- but the IRS does. My Lady gives me a 1099 form instead of a W-2, and that's all they care about. Because self-employed people, you see, have to pay taxes at twice the rate of W-2 people, to make up for what they’re not getting from your employer.

Oh, it’s totally fair. Not so much for me, I mean, because I make $17,000 a year so I can totally afford an extra grand. But let’s say for, oh, I don't know -- a painter. A regular-employed person puts in their eight hours (or more; I do recognize that oftentimes it’s more) and collects a check with roughly 1/3 missing – some of which, if he’s planned it wisely, will come back to him as a refund in April. A painter, on the other hand, spends half his time unpaid, driving around and pricing jobs he will not get, or picking up material for those he does. Plus he has to spend evening hours doing his own billing and accounting. Or his wife does. He can’t possibly charge enough per hour for the time he’s actually at work to make up for the time he’s not – people already think $25/hour is too much to pay for labor that they don’t believe takes any skill. (It would work out to $52K a year, before taxes, if he worked 40 hours every week -- with no sick time, health benefits, or paid vacation. Which is about what a secretary makes around these parts with all of those. But never mind.) And for all of this he gets the privilege of paying half again as much in taxes, not a cent of which does he have any hope of getting back.

I know, I know, I said “twice the rate” above and then “half again as much” right there. That’s because I don’t remember what it is, exactly. Johnny hasn’t had work in so long, we haven’t even had to file for the past few years, and if I look it up right now I will get agida.

Anyway. This form was surely asking how I file, and since I didn't in the years they specified, I didn't see how it mattered what I said. I considered checking yes, I am a W-2 employee, because it seemed it would be easier, and because -- since this was a non-income thingy-dingy -- I assumed they weren't checking, anyway. But, honestly, I don't remember if that's what I did or not. I could find out. It's in an envelope around here somewhere, swear to god.

Whatever box I checked, I sent it. Maria gave me a new number, I faxed the forms from Gary Drug, and when I called to confirm that they’d arrived, I found Maria working up some actual inflection! Was she warming up to me? Or was this a Pavlovian response in direct proportion to the tangibility of my account? Either way, it didn’t matter. A stalk of celery makes a more stimulating conversationalist than a limp carrot, any day. And what she said to me in her crunchy new voice was:

“What fax number did you send them to?”

Oh, jeez.

“Um? The number you gave me? This morning? When we spoke? The XXX one?”

Apparently? In an attempt to turn my own inflection up a notch to match Maria’s? I’d turned into an up-speaking Valley Girl?

“I’ll look around,” she said, “and call you. But next time use this other number, just in case.”

Um? Okay?

She called back in an hour to say she found the forms. “That person isn’t in today,” she said, “so your fax got kind of buried.”

You mean that person? Who’s fax number you gave me? Isn’t you?


The next step, Maria said, was to verify my employment, which she would do in the next day or so and call me. But what happened instead was that, an hour later, I got a panicked phone call from My Lady.

“Some woman from Bank of America just called! Asking all these questions! About whether or not you work for me!" She was quite worked up about it. I felt bad.

"But don’t worry," she went on.

"I didn't confirm anything.”

To be continued. Because I really don’t see any reason why you people should get to know how this turns out any faster than I did. This is MY soul I’m selling, after all...


pork luck said...

oh dear.. you've got me so nervous over here!

Anonymous said...

"But don't worry. I didn't confirm anything".

Jenni said...

Lawd....the drama. We are all waiting. On pins and needles.