J'EVER NOTICE ?
In life . . . if you really think about it . . .
things are not always, or should I say,
usually, not always . . . as they appear to be.
This is actually, the essence of PHILOSOPHY.
You'll find this true in just about everything
you encounter, if you just inquire, ( or as the Brits say, ENQUIRE ) or scratch beneath the surface . . . or just think, think.
DUH, especially in POLITICS.
A monk asked Shitou, " Why did the
first Patriarch come from the West ?
Shitou said, " Ask the temple pillar
over there. "
The monk said, " I do not understand. "
Shitou said, " Neither do I. "
The above ZEN tale reminds me of an incident from what I think, and others have told of my so-called exciting ( or interesting ) life, depending on how you look at it, especially in the 26 years I owned and operated my successful sign/graphics operation in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area ( All in northern Virginia ) . . . from 1975 til 2001, when I sold it. There is a book there, ( or reality show ).
An old collegue of mine, which I knew from 1962, whom I'll call Donald Schmitt was a signpainter in a nearby neighborhood in Falls Church, Virginia, where I had my fledgling sign company . . . He had a one-man operation,
always stayed busy, but never really made any money to speak of. He seemed to be always be one step ahead the the landlord, creditors and the I.R.S., ( I'm sure we all know people like this, right ? ).
My operation was catching on fire and by 1977 I had at least two full-time employees and one or two part-timers. I would usually have to farm out my overflow of work to Donald or another smaller sign company .
The way I did it was, say, if I had a 4x8 ft. plywood real estate sign to do, I would purchase the plywood, prime it and put a finish coat of enamel and furnish a layout pattern for the signpainter to execute . . . this way, I could resell the finish product . . in fact, sometimes I would have Donald and his two sons install the sign . . . this way, of course would enable to me to have more time to sell more work and produce more work . . . it was all bottom line . . .gross billings for the month . . . etc.
Anyway, getting back to my story, one day, while Donald's one-man shop was flourishing, by at this time, he was renting a large garage in an alley in northern Virginia. It seemed that although Donald had been in business for 20-30 years by that time . . . he never
filed taxes . . and you know, sooner or later, the I.R.S.is on your tail . . . problem was, since Donald's one-man sign operation kept moving every year or so it was almost impossible to catch up to him . . . The I.R.S.
of course were always chasing bigger fish . . . they knew guys like this usually don't have any assets so they don't always spend too much time chasing these poor unfortunate saps. But they gotta do it.
Since my brother worked 53 years for the I.R.S., I found out that the field agents ( the ones who make physical contact ) with these alleged-non-tax payers, usually carry a list with them of smaller fish so that when they are on a call and fail to make contact, rather than returning to their office, they go on down the list to try to make contact with some other sap on the list in that area, just walking in on them at the last address given , hopefully to get lucky.
Sometimes they ARE lucky and catch these poor saps, like " To catch a predator" on TV. You know, A deer in the headlights kinda thing.
This guy, my signpainter friend, however, was too smart, too SLICK for these lower-level, usually green, I.R.S. chumps that were always chasing him . Schmitt was a pro at this . . . he had years and years of experience at this . . .
The scene was like a small kid ( The I.R.S. agent )
chasing a fast experienced grease-covered piglet in a large field. It wasn't fair, the I.R.S. agent was always at a disadvantage . . . but fun to watch.
Here's the crux of the story . . .One nice early
afternoon, about 1:30 or so, in 1977, this elderly I.R.S. field agent knocks on Schmitt's Sign Shop door, Donald invites him in, the government guy identifies himself, plops his business card on Schmitt's desk and asks for Donald Schmitt, Donald doesn't know who this guy is ( He could be a customer or a materials supplier salesman ), so Donald says, " I'm Donald Schmitt.
This is where the fun starts . . . The I.R.S. guy says,
" We've been looking for you, and we've noticed you haven't filed your income-tax papers for many years . . .
forget about the last five years . . . we're just interested in the last THREE years . . . . Don't you keep records ? "
To which Donnie, with a devilish smirk, says " SURE, I keep records . . . "
I.R.S. guys says, " Where are they ? "
" Right over there. " ( Ronnie points to two large paper grocery bags in the corner of his one-room shop. )
The curious elderly government agent curiously walks over to the bags and peers into them . . .
Donnie quickly tells him, " One bag contains my records and the other bag is trash. "
The I.R.S. guys looks at both bags and says, " I can't tell the difference. "
To which the slick Donald Schmitt calmly replies,
" Neither can I. "
Here's the clincher . . . The I.R.S. guy calmly and with a kind of dazed look to what had just transpired, knowing he has just been "had", quietly walks back across the room , picks up his card which he'd just left on Mr. Schmitt's desk and says to Donnie:
" If anyone calls, tell them haven't been here. "
Have a nice day, Mr. Schmitt. "
. . . and calmly, lackadaisically, saunters out, ( where he will go back to patiently wait for his government stipend and eventually escape from this chicken-shit world ).
This is a true story. One day I plan to do a biographical web comic of all my interesting life . . there's a good story there, if I can just DO IT.
Need a good title.
" It doesn't matter WHAT happens to you
in this life . . . what DOES matter is, HOW you process
what happens. "
- Donald Schmitt
( Better write that one down )