Today I received a letter from the City of Manassas saying, “Our records indicate that the above named business (that’s me, Miriam Beachy) has not obtained a City of Manassas business license pursuant to Section 30-32 and 30-37 of the Manassas City code of ordinances. It is requested that you contact this office within the next seven business days…” (In case you’re wondering, my full name is Miriam Elaine Beachy. In everything and everywhere but official legal business, I’m Elaine.)
I didn’t realize (or if I did, I forgot) that as an author I needed a city license—oops! I’ve had a Virginia state license since June of 2012 for income tax purposes. Needless to say, I called Ms. Lucy Pullen immediately, and was told I needed to come to City Hall, go to the second floor, room # 201 to apply for a permit, then bring it to first floor, room # 104. That sounded easy enough, so I set off, having just taken my three loaves of hot whole wheat bread out of the oven. No time like the present, I told myself.
I got the elevator to second floor, went to room 201, and was handed a form to complete. Before I could write, Ms. 201 behind the counter said, “Oh, I need your vehicle license and registration so we have the weight of the vehicle.” I was incredulous. (They want to know how much my car weighs? That unwelcome information is usually reserved for me at the doctor’s office.)
Taking the elevator back down to first floor, I walked back to the car in 90° heat and humidity, rummaged through the glove compartment until I found the required document, (and grabbed our car insurance card—just in case I’d need that and hadn’t been told) walked back to the building, took the elevator back up to 201, and filled out the paperwork after she wrote the car’s weight on the document. Ms. 201 was on the phone with a client, so I tucked my driver’s license back into my wallet, left and took the paper with me to first floor, room # 104, Commissioner of the Revenue, as she had said I would need to do.
Ms. Revenue in 104 said, “Oh, 201 didn’t sign off on the document!” She called Ms. 201 who exclaimed, “I wondered where Mrs. Beachy went; she just left!” (Well, like I said, Ms. 201 was on the phone and I figured I was done; I wasn’t told she had to sign off on anything.) Ms. 104 said, “You need to go back up to 201!”
Back up the elevator I went to 201 with the application for my permit, and took a seat as I waited while another Ms. Permit did her thing. Then I was told to take the signed application back downstairs to 104 where I was to fill out and sign more paperwork.
I sat down to wait beside a man who asked me, “Are you starting a business, too?” I told him I was getting a City business license as an author of children’s books (and I am gratified to say he was properly impressed) after which I asked him what business he’s starting. He replied, “Heating and air conditioning.” The clerk behind the desk immediately spoke up: “Oh, I could use some help with mine,” and was immediately handed a business card by said applicant who engaged her in conversation about her air conditioning problems.
My lightning fast mind immediately saw an opportunity, and I grabbed my purse, found the slim silver case that held my author business cards and also found my husband’s home improvement business cards. When my fellow applicant turned to leave, I offered him both cards, and he replied, “Oh good; my nine-year old daughter loves to read; I’ll have to check out your books!” I wished him well in his business and thought, “Who knows where this exchange may lead someday?”
My turn at the desk in 104: “Ms. Beachy, fill out these two forms, then take them across the hall to room # 103, Treasurer’s Office, to pay for the $25 permit. Oh, and I need our Social Security card.” What? I searched my wallet thoroughly, but couldn’t find it. “No worries,” she says; “I can look it up from the DMV records.” I gave a sigh of relief and headed for room # 103 to pay up. But not before I gave her a set of business cards too.
Once there, I opened my wallet and slid my Discover card, along with the paperwork, across the counter. “Oh, we just take Visa or MasterCard, and there’s a fee of seventy-four cents to use a credit card,” said Ms. 103. So I asked, “Would you just as soon have a check?” She replied in the affirmative, so I obliged.
Having made payment, I took the receipt for the paid permit back over to 104 where I signed a few papers and walked out with my prize: a Manassas City business license!
Copyright © 2015 Elaine Beachy