Asshole Tax

I used to call my mistakes "lessons", as in, I didn't see the "No Parking/Street Cleaning" sign and got a $35 lesson or "I waited too long to buy so-and-so a birthday gift and had to FedEx it last minute for a $40 lesson." That is, I called them lessons until I realized I would likely repeat or, in fact, had repeated my errors and wasn't learning a damned thing from them, ergo the word "lesson" was a misnomer.

"Asshole Tax," however, was right on the money.

Think about it. Essentially, you're forking over a premium (tax) on top of what you'd ordinarily pay because you: (a) did not organize your time properly; (b) remember what you shouldn't have forgotten; or (c) otherwise wantonly disregarded the plainly obvious, i.e., acted like an asshole.

It's heavy on my mind because the holidays, with their crazy time compression, are typically a time of heavy Asshole Tax Assessment for me.

Paid $4 for a bottle of water at the airport because you were too slammed for time to pick up one at the supermarket? That's a $3.40 Asshole Tax.

Buying your hosts a (crappy) $15 bottle of wine because you forgot to add one to the cart at Trader Joe's? A $5-10 Asshole Tax, depending on how skinflinty you were to begin with.

Of course, there are circumstances under which Asshole Tax is not Asshole Tax, namely, when they fall under my other-favorite financial designator, Value For Your Dollar. Like this morning, when technically I had left myself enough time for (free) street parking but was too tired to hike the four blocks to the hair salon; I paid $2.50 to park a half-block from the salon and believe you me, I got every penny's worth.

Sometimes it gets tricky to discern between the two. For instance, if I pay for takeout because I am too busy to make myself dinner (because of dietary restrictions, I almost always have to make myself dinner), I could call it Asshole Tax because I didn't plan my time properly, but I could also call it Value For My Dollar since a well-balanced meal is probably going to serve me and my intestinal health better in the long run than calling yet another fistful of cashews and cheese (my fast food) "dinner." (Believe me, those 11-day hospital stays don't come cheap.)

What's fascinating to me about the Asshole Tax/Value For Your Dollar equation is how it is not at all amount-dependent. I know I'll grumble over every cent of gift shop Asshole Tax that those pantyhose/false eyelashes/tampons I forgot to pack for my upcoming trip will cost me. But I couldn't care less about the premium I'm going to pay to park my car at the airport for six days because I'll squeeze every drop of value out blowing off Super Shuttle.

Unless, of course, I've already missed the chance to make my parking reservations at a reasonably-priced lot.

Asshole Tax, here I come...

xxx c