Story Time

It’s a Free Country?

Deborah Venable



He knocked on the door.  The dogs barked with all the vigor they could muster – “danger, master, danger!” they seemed to say.  I could see him through the window, though, and he looked like a likeable enough chap standing there in his neat as a pin suit and studious looking glasses.  I didn’t invite him in, but I went outside and closed the door behind me. 


He was holding a legal sized clipboard with a legal sized file attached to it and one of those neat, new Ipads lying on top of it all.  He knew my name and told me his as he made the announcement that was supposed to make my blood run cold with fear – “I’m from the IRS.”


I knew what it was all about and had been expecting such a visit from whomever had been desperate enough for a government job to sign up for this new domestic army.  We had ample warning, after all, didn’t we?  Oh, there had been the letters and the phone calls, and even emails (imagine that) threatening just such a “personal” visit if I did not comply.




Oh, excuse me.  I must be getting ahead of myself in this story.


I was not in compliance with the mandate (tax, excuse me Justice Roberts) to purchase healthcare insurance. 


So, I simply said, “Oh yes, I have been expecting you – thank-you so much for coming all the way out here to the boondocks to personally visit me and inquire about my health!”


He said, “Could we take a few minutes and go over your file?  I have some questions that need answers.”


“Shoot!”  I said.  “No, Babes!”  I yelled back inside to my kids – not y’all – not yet anyway.”


“Well, could we go inside?” he asked as he juggled his clipboard and Ipad.


“I could,” I said, “but you might have a problem doing that.  The dogs don’t like strangers.”


Bless their little hearts, they were still going at it fast and furious, (uh … I mean with great vehemence, sorry AG Holder) and these are not little doggies we’re talking about!


My front porch is not without its amenities, however, and the front yard can be an inviting place to sit and enjoy nature.  It just so happened that at this exact time, nature was something better enjoyed from INSIDE a sound dwelling.  The porch roof was holding its own for the moment.


“Our records indicate that you have not purchased health insurance, and I am here to tell you your options,” he said with a little less control that he thought he would have.


“How would you know what my insurance status is?” I asked.  “My health is excellent for my age, and insurance wouldn’t change that.”


At this point, I felt the desire for a smoke, so I pulled out my handy pack and lit one with my trusty Zippo. 


“Oh, so you are also a smoker!” he exclaimed.


“Yep, I pay enough extra taxes every year to cover YOUR health insurance,” I said.  “When was the last time you visited a doctor?  You don’t look so well.”


“I have allergies,” he said.  “I would prefer if you didn’t smoke around me.”


“Okay,” I said, “I’ll just get back to what I was doing inside then.  You have a nice day!”


“No, wait!” he said.  “Come on, lady, I have a job to do.”


“And what would that be?” I asked.  “Just what is your job description?”


This was fast turning into a more than one cigarette conversation, I thought as I placed the butt in the handy ashtray on the porch (I told you the porch had amenities.)  Hell, I may even have to pop a beer before this is over!


My son and a couple of my daughters came out the door at this point.


“How many live here?” the guy asked with a shaky voice.


I gratefully donned the coat my daughter handed me, and gave the kids a nod to go back inside.  My son, (bless his heart) also handed me that beer I’d been thinking about!


“I can offer you water,” I said.  “That’s the only thing we have right now except beer, and I wouldn’t dream of that since you are driving!”


“Let’s cut to the chase, Ma’am,” he said impatiently.  “How many live here in the residence with you?”


“That varies,” I said.  “Last count I guess about 17 of us in all – inside anyway.” 


I learned first hand what the term, “rocked back” looked like as the guy did a double take.


“Of course there’s the chickens, but they have their own coop,” I continued.


“I’m going to need names and occupations, Ma’am, starting with you!” he said.


“But you know who I am,” I said.  “You already addressed me by my name and I didn’t correct you.”


Handy pack – trusty Zippo – long drag.  This guy was trying my nerves at this point!  Pretty soon I would have to call for another beer!


“Ma’am, I really do have allergies!” he said as he pulled his suit coat a little tighter around his neck.


“Hey, the wind is on your side,” I said.  “You should get those allergies checked out though.  I’m sure I have your doctor bill paid up already.”


Silence.  (Except for the wind whistling through my sturdy little porch of course.)


I continued, “Occupation?  Nothing I get paid for, but I have plenty of worthwhile stuff that occupies my time.  I live with three of my five kids, four dogs, four cats, two birds, two rats, and one ferret – not to mention the girls in the coop.  Now write fast, cause I’m only going to tell you their names once!”


“Ma’am, do you or do you not have medical insurance?” the obviously agitated little man inquired.


“I thought you said you knew the answer to that question, Mr.,” I said.  “I also thought you identified yourself as an agent of the IRS – NOT an insurance salesman – so what’s your point?  Son, bring me another beer please!”  I yelled.


I deposited the empty in the handy trashcan on the front porch (I told you the porch had amenities) and glared back at the look of total amazement I was receiving from Mr. IRS.


“Do you always drink like that?” he asked (trying to sound, uh … authoritative.)


“No, actually, I am usually either in better company or busy on some project or other by beer time – some enjoyable activity.”


“Don’t you have high speed internet service up here?” he asked as he was feverishly punching his Ipad. 


“Yup, as long as the router’s turned on and the weather isn’t too bad,” I said. 


Out came his Iphone from some undisclosed location in his suit.


“I have to contact my office,” he said. 


“Might be a bit of a problem up here because we have what we affectionately refer to as dead zones for cell service,” I said.  “I’d suggest you walk up that little hill right there,” I indicated the hill up to the chicken coop, “and try it up there.  I had to sit up there for a couple hours one day trying to stay connected to you IRS folks when you first started hassling me some time ago after my husband died.  Of course that was before we had a land line here.”


“I need to use your phone,” he said.


“Phone’s inside - with the dogs,” I said.



To be continued …


I showed this story to my daughter, and her reply came back like a Gatlin Gun.  She has worked as a veterinary technician for over twenty years, so naturally her analogy of the current state of deteriorating liberties was beautifully painted with the brush of her experience in animal care.  In less than five minutes, she summed the whole thing up.



Here’s a good analogy for you.  You got a dog- lets say 6 or 7 years old.  Good owners previously potty trained him right.  He knows not to crap on the rug.  Then because of some catastrophe- (or bad voting)- he somehow finds himself in a new home.  Its full of a bunch of untrained, wild heathen dogs that crap wherever they want.  He dutifully goes outside to do his business... rain or shine.  The other dogs are like - what are you doing - they'll clean it up for you - why bother??


And he's the odd man out because the majority was never taught not to crap on the rug.


You could take it further too... because this dog was trained right, he used to go everywhere.  He had the run of the place, was trusted with kids and guests and trusted to know when to make friends and when to defend... but these other dogs are stuck in one big room- if they go out its only in a box or on a leash - because they cant be trusted.  So here the poor guy is...

confined by a rule set designed for a bunch of useless dogs that crap on the rug.


Heather Venable



If you have anything to add to this little story, or the analogy of deteriorating liberties, use the handy feedback link at the bottom.  



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