an excerpt from Running From The Taxman, A Great American Road Trip, by Chris Plante

May 14, 2013

Dear Maggie,

Sorry you feel that way about “White Glow.” At first I was a little taken aback by your refusal to consider such a lucrative product line that Al Tackey has so graciously offered to franchise us with no out-of-pocket expense.  Perhaps you could still re-think the proposition?  According to Betty Penowski, whom you will remember is Mable and Frank’s twenty-one year old daughter, the white glow lip-gloss is a big hit in religious circles.  Now I know neither of us are into the religion thing, and we most likely would not be welcomed far enough into any circle of faith to make a sale.  But we could hire religious salespeople, or at least some who could fake it.  And I know it is not just your aversion to shiny bright lips, but to cosmetics in general.  You are fortunate to not have to wear stuff on your skin, as it graces you perfectly well in its natural state.  Very few are as endowed so well as you.

I’m keeping my door open to other opportunities, one that might cause you to jump out through my tablet screen and yell, “Take it!  Take it!”

     For a brief moment this morning I thought today may be that day, for as I was stepping out of the diner a large shiny gold Cadillac Escalade nearly rammed me right back into the first seat at the counter.  It stopped close enough to for me to place my coffee on its hood and resume shaking without the continued loss of my morning Joe.  A very large man wearing a button down shirt, sports coat, slacks and cowboy boots jumped out.  He apologized four or five times in a row and reached out with his big hand to greet.  I had an easy time shaking it since my hand was still trembling in unison with the rest of me.  Bernie Goldsmith introduced himself as a “Blessed Christian.”  “I make millionaires for God,” he said loudly, with a grin on his face that went clear across from one ear to the other.  “I teach folks like you how to work just a few hours a day from home and earn residual income for life!”  Then he offered to fill my coffee cup back up.  We sat down at a booth and he started right in with a long dialogue about capitalism, free trade, republicans, Jesus, church, work ethic, marriage, the rat race, kids, the high cost of college education, reality T.V. stars, health insurance, oil prices, the Middle East, New York City, Kansas, Hollywood, multi level marketing, late night presentations, big houses, and Cadillacs.  My head was spinning somewhere between Jesus and reality T.V. stars.  I’m not sure what late night presentations had to do with it all but I’m guessing that it is part of working a few hours a day from a big house.  So I interrupted him about 45 minutes into it and told him I just wanted to have a handle on my taxes.  “You wanna know how to do taxes, is that it?” he asked.  “Boy, do I have the system for you!”  You can work from home, do your own taxes, have access to hundreds of lawyers any time of the day, even one to represent you in court!”  I told him I don’t want to go to court, ever, I just want to turn in a fair tax return.  “Fair is my middle name, fair is what we teach!”  Then he reached out to grab my arm, “But you already know how to be fair, don’t you?”  I didn’t have time to open my mouth.  “We just have to teach you the mechanics of it all.  We teach you how to be rich!”  He went on to tell me about the system he has for tax preparation, a system with sixteen one-hour long DVD’s.  It comes with four notebooks complete with up to date tax forms.  “You don’t even have to learn how to do all the stuff,” he went on, “you just get seven people to buy the system and you get your taxes done for free!”  I asked him if I get all the years, 2005 to 2012, for free.  “Sounds like you have some issues,” he perceptually blurted.  Then he looked around, “you living here?” I just shrugged my shoulders.  I think he could see that I did not have seven people who I wanted to know my whereabouts, let alone that I could sell his system to.  People who do what he does for a living all day learn how to read others.  “You have a blessed day,” he said as he got up.  He tore off down the highway in his shiny gold Cadillac just as the waitress came to my table with the bill.

I’m off to help the clan clean out the holding tanks on their Winnebagos.  The hoses have to be rinsed out afterward.  The process requires the use of many gallons of chlorine.

Then later tonight, Mabel and Frank, who have 3 daughters, Betty, who is 21, Beverley, age 19, and Doreen, age 16, plan a big barbecue.  The clan is going to throw a party after to celebrate the engagement of Beverly to some guy from Indianapolis whom she dated for a few years before his parents moved him away from Chicago.  They will be serving peach Kool-Aid in their motor home.  “We serve peach,” Beverly told me today,  “Beatrice and Gerald serve blue cherry mint, and Mildred and Graham serve cola sometimes but mostly clear.  The drinks match the colors of our interiors and don’t leave stains on the carpet!”  Then she let me in a little on the soon-to-be-groom.  “He just graduated from high school last year. His family owns a feed store.  Nice people.  They can’t make it, but he should be showing up soon.  Say, if that man you are traveling with doesn’t come back tonight, can he sleep in your van?”

Yours,
Simon

you can buy a copy of Running From The Taxman, A Great American Road Trip, here