Monday, December 10, 2007

The goat farmer.

The goat farmer needed supplies. He had bought one of those fancy label printers to keep track of his inventory.
He was the proprietor of a modern state of the art business that could boast of customers that were some of the biggest names in goat farming.
This label printer was the perfect addition so that those little vials could be tracked, sorted and shipped without errors. The old technique of hand-writing the labels caused errors, tied up employees whose hands could be doing more important things, and didn't convey the image of a modern operation like he was running.
He was happy with the printer, felt that the prices for the ink and labels were reasonable, but there was a question about the taxes.
How come he was being charged a sales tax on his ink and labels?

The farmer was transferred to the tax department. Betty would get to the bottom of this.
“OK, so what is your product?” Betty asked.

“Goat sperm” the farmer said.
“Excuse me, did you say goat... sperm?”

“Yep, I'm the largest producer of goat sperm in the tri-state area.”

Betty regrouped. She would have liked to pass this research off to somebody/ANYbody else, but no one was available. Act calm, stay in control... “Oh? And how large would that be?”

“We ship twelve hundred units a day” the farmer said proudly.

“My my, that sounds big all right.” Betty said, sounding as knowledgeable as she could, “and you use our machine for what?”

“To label the vials.” The farmer replied “We keep track of the sire, the date of the collection, and the sample number.”

Betty kept thinking 'twelve hundred per day', 'twelve hundred per day'. She was having trouble wrapping her brain around that. “You 'milk' one thousand two hundred goats per day?” She paused, “is 'milk' the correct word?”

“You can use that” he chuckled, “I'll know what you mean.” “How come I'm paying taxes on labels that are for use in my plant, these supplies should be exempt!”.

Betty assured the farmer that she would contact his states' tax department.
Betty called the correct department and went through the entire dilemma with them. The woman on the other end was sympathetic to the difficulties of sorting through this, but they worked out the details between them based on what they understood of the process. Armed with this information she felt that she was better prepared to deal with the farmer without being embarrassed.

She called the farmer and told him “You may be eligible for an exemption based on where in your process you use your labels.” “I have to know if these labels are used for the vials that are shipped to the customer or if they are used for storage or inventory.” “It makes a difference in your state whether the labels are for marking 'per goat' or 'per customer'.
Betty was pulling it off. She was professional, in control...

The farmer said “Well I don't know exactly where you draw the line?”.

Betty suddenly felt that she might be forced into delving into the details. She popped up to look around her cubicle to make sure that no one was approaching.
She crouched over so she could talk quietly into the phone. “It makes a difference WHEN you put the label on the product.”

The farmer was still talking at the same volume but Betty was sure that he was yelling loud enough so that everyone in the other cubicles could hear.

He said “you mean the vials of sperm?”

Betty waited for “sperm” to stop echoing around the office. EVERYBODY heard that, didn't they? “yesssss” she hissed. “I mean the vials of...”
“product”. Deep breath. Keep going. “At what stage of the process do you affix the label?”

The farmer said “we print em out as we need em so they don't get mixed up.” “Each goat has a bar code on his collar and the label is printed to match.”

Betty lowered her head even lower so that the phone was clunking against the keyboard
“No no, I mean do you label each batch or is each vial kept separate?” she said in a very low voice.

“I told you, twelve hundred per day.” he said. After Betty's disappearing volume, the farmer's voice sounded like it was booming on a speaker phone. “Twelve hundred per day means twelve hundred glass vials, twelve hundred labels, and of course, twelve hundred goats.” “You can't really do this without the goats now, could you?”

Silence. Betty was waiting for the echoes to stop.

“Could you?” “Hello Betty?”

“Yes... I'm here....”

“I was saying you need twelve hundred goats, did you hear that?”

“Yes, I heard it.” She wanted this conversation to end.

He continued “so if I'm labeling twelve hundred vials and I freeze them, and I also ship twelve hundred every day, I doesn't matter whether a vial was collected today, yesterday, or two months ago. I don't care and I don't think the state should care either.”

Betty offered “the way that they explained it to me, is that it makes a difference whether the bottles are labeled before or after the collection machine”.

Now it was time for the farmer to pause “What kinda machine?”

“You know... the 'milking' machine.”

“Honey, we ain't milking them, these are BOY goats!”

Betty blushed and drove her chin down on the M key of her keyboard and only lifted it to stop the beeping. “I know that!”. “I mean the machine that collects the sperm from the twelve hundred goats per day”.

The farmer laughed. “Honey, nobody sells a machine to do that!

Betty said "Okay, I will have to get back to you... Thank you for calling, we will have to do a little more research".

Then she stood up, adjusted her blouse, and went out for a walk. This was a call she would have to finish another day.

I wrote this story this particular week because I am spending some time with the person that originally told me this story several years ago. I wanted to have the facts checked. The dialog is not exact but it has been confirmed that this is how it happened, more or less. I was also told that Betty had just started this job when this happened. She had plenty of tax experience but not very much goat experience.


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