7:30 last night, our phone rang. We don’t have caller ID, but since there is a lull in the political calls, I though there was a pretty good chance it was one of the kids.
It was a call from the Department of Agriculture.
The long arm of the law had finally caught up with me….
“Hi, this is Janet… I am calling to follow up on the Department of Agriculture survey that you should have received in the mail… You did get one didn’t you? “
I had but had already decided not to send it in. It felt like one of those obtrusive meddlesome/ none of their business forms, but now that I was on the phone with a real live person who was just doing her job, I felt like a little kid who’d been caught skipping school.
So we began.
She asked me a series of questions related to our apple trees, the questions gradually becoming more and more personal.
Pause- I am not a rebel.
I pay my taxes, play by the rules, yet have lived long enough now to have watched our government red tape/ bureaucracy continue to morph and grow like the thunderheads of an approaching storm.
Its just the nature of the beast, bureaucracy has a built in growth mechanism and unless there is someone in power who intentionally chooses to dial it back, it will always continue to grow.
I don’t believe Uncle Sam should have any business keeping tabs on my apple growing hobby, other than whether or not I pay my fair share of income tax.
Because it is a hobby.
The department of Agriculture has already said our setup is not large enough to qualify for a “farmstead exemption.” It needs to be a minimum of one acre and ours is not.
Anyway, at this point in the conversation, something inside of me welled up and I blurted out to Janet. “Is there any way you can take my name off your list?”
Pause…..”Well, no there isn’t…. pause…But...pause, you do know this survey is voluntary..right?”
( I did not)
“I have to tell you, Janet said, In the past, there was a large highlighted disclaimer on the front of the envelop that said it was optional, and as I look at this years envelop, that is missing. (even though it still is optional)
I then voiced a couple of reasons why I was asking…she agreed and chuckled…I told her she sounded like my mom.
How old are you? she asked…I told her..“Yep, I am old enough to be your mom.”
Here’s a toast to all of the Janets of the world who, while just doing their jobs, they are secure enough to know when it’s OK to speak up, press the pause button, and not just mindlessly follow the rules for rules sake.