December 13, 2008

No good deed shall go unpunished

Filed under: canuckia,meatspace — SiKing @ 12:00 pm
Tags: ,

Good guys, honest people, always get screwed, and not in a good way. My life is usually SNAFU, so I am pretty used to life’s ups and especially it’s downs. But these past few months have had a rather high density of incidents, even for me.

Back in mid-August things started out pretty good. I got a transfer to California. I was thinking that I would cash in on the housing crash there. Some of the reports are way overrated BTW – it is not possible to buy a home at 10 cents on the dollar, but it is quite possible to buy a home at 40 cents on the dollar. The day after I put an offer on a house I got fired. Don’t want to get into the particulars right now; might air out the dirty laundry later. Basically, I spoke my mind, and my boss and I did not see eye-to-eye. If only I would have kept my mouth shut, and just kept on keeping on like the rest of the sheep, I still would have been gainfully employed.

While all that was going on, being in California, I had to get a car. As with the house market, the car industry was hit just as hard if not harder. So I was shopping round for a bargain. Found a nice 2002 Volvo V70XC, with little over 50k miles, for little over $12k including all taxes and registration. All the fixin’s too, you could still see the imprints of the child-seats in the leather back seats of the car – obviously a pampered mommy mobile. Everyone we spoke to told us that Volvos are very reliable cars, so we went for it. Being a nice guy, I even tried to make it before the end of the month so the dealership makes their quota. Two weeks later, the transmission fell apart! Almost two weeks and $4000 after that, we had a new transmission in it. The mechanic told us, that we had better drive it as much as possible, and bring it back after about 1000 miles for him to give it a quick look over. Only 325 miles later, that transmission started going! At least this time it was under warranty. However, by this time, we decided that the economy is not going to improve any time soon, and so we are going back to Canada. The landlord called from Hawaii to tell me she will not be able to refund me the $1500 deposit because I am breaking the lease, and so we were just holding out until the car got fixed, this time by Volvo personally, or until we get forcefully evicted, whichever comes first. The car won.

When crossing the border with the car, I got another shocker. I had once previously brought a car from the US to Canada. It was a while back, and I remember very little: I showed up, paid the GST, they filled out a bunch of paperwork, and I went along on my way. This time however they wanted me to prove that I am paying the GST for my car. I actually had to prove that I do not have some odd fetish about paying taxes for someone else’s property. The only way to prove that is with an original title. I had paid off the car only like a week earlier, and asked to have the title mailed to my Canadian address (the mailing, normally takes several weeks or months). So now I am screwed! I had to call my dad, luckily only 3 hours away, to come and pick up us and my crummy stuff, drive my car back over to the American side, get ridiculed by more customs guards, and park it in a field behind the nearest bar for $21/week. From the number of cars parked out there, I am not the only unfortunate. If I had instead told the customs officials that I am only visiting my parents for Xmas, everything would have been fine. I still had what definitely appeared to be a valid work permit for the US, along with all the necessary documentation to get it. I could have driven the car on American (cheaper) registration for another 8 months, thereby completely avoiding something like $1300 in import duties because I have owned the car for less than 1 year. A year later I could have saved some more of the $1200 GST (aka: Gouge and Screw Tax) as the car would have been another year older. I could have avoided all the hassle and more than half the costs, if only I had told a little white lie. The best thing is, that if I do honestly get a job down in the States again and take the car back there, I will probably not be able to get any of the taxes back!

Update 12-01-09: Got the paperwork for the car last Thursday. It came in an envelope that had a return address to the bank and not the DMV. ❓ It has to be faxed to the Americans 72 hours in advance; did that. Went to pick up the car today. No problems on the American side. They made me go get the car first; didn’t even have to dig it out of a snow bank, and it started on the first try!!! 😮 The Canadians were A-holes as usual. 👿 At the drive-through window they asked me how much the car was. I could not remember, pulled out the bill of sale, and scanned through the half-meter long (I am not exaggerating here) sheet, written in size 9 font. I picked one of the numerous “total price” values and rattled that off to the cute chick. I was then told to come in, to fill out the paperwork and pay the import taxes. Inside it’s all guns, bullet-proof vests and too much testosterone – sheesh. The best thing: the chick running the cash register – no gun, no vest! 😕 The guy is scanning through my paperwork, and asks: “How come it says here that the car cost [names some number that is about $400 higher]?” Note that this is a $400 difference on a 12-thousand-dollar car. I told him, that I was not sure. “Well, you need to tell us exactly.” I looked at the paper, and told him that I am sorry and I must have made a mistake, “there are, after all, a lot of numbers on this paper,” I pleaded. The 25-year old kid looks me straight in the eye, and says: “You need to know exactly what the car cost. When you gave us the price the first time, that is the only chance you get. You basically lied to us. I could now reposes the car, you could be fined $10,000, and you could be jailed for 10 years!” 😯 I wanted to smack him upside the head for being rude to the elderly, but I realized that that would have been more of an insult to me than to him.

As far as I can tell, the world’s longest undefended border works only for terrorists. Every time I cross it, I feel nervous, and all the people wearing bullet-proof vests and guns at their hip are far from friendly. On our recent “visit”, my daughter noticed a bunch of them standing around a computer laughing. She asked me what they are doing. I told her that they are probably watching some funny movie on the computer. She said that maybe she could do a job like that when she grows up. I did not want to tell her in front of the dozen or so armed officers bored out of their minds, that she can already do a job like that at 9 years old! The North America Free Trade Agreement is some lunatic’s work of fiction, as there is nothing free about it that I can see. The only benefit, is that Canadians are allowed to go work there at a cost of $50/year, as opposed to something like $450/3 years for other nationalities. As for moving goods back and forth for free, or some layman going down there (or coming up here for that matter) to just get any job – forget it!

I often ask myself: Am I actually doing my children any justice by teaching them to be good, law-abiding citizens? Would I not be preparing them better for that cruel world if I were to teach them to lie, cheat, and steal at every opportunity?

Update 16-01-09: I have been corrected. It’s not “lie, cheat, and steal”, it’s apparently called “being diplomatic” and in that case it’s OK.



  1. Většinou to beru jak to přijde, ale tentokrát toho na mě bylo moc.

    Comment by siking — December 15, 2008 @ 7:26 am | Reply

  2. Z toho si nic nedelej, ja resim to samy. K detem jsem uprimny, rikam jim veci, jak jsou. Ted to treba vzdycky nechapou, ale vyrostou a dojde jim to. Jak rikal Predator: Zivot je svine. A bible rika: spravedlivy i kdyz 7x padne, vzdycky zase vstane.

    Comment by pavrda — December 14, 2008 @ 3:15 pm | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: