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Existentialism and the Maryland tax office

Albert Camus recommended various exercises to develop an existentialist view of life. One was to wait in a long theater line, then walk away upon reaching the ticket counter. Nowadays, with online ticket purchases and short lines, this is impractical.

But fear not: our government has provided an alternative. Call (410) 767-4991 for the office of the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation. You will be placed on a phone queue and receive messages every minute. "Your call is important to us. Please stay on the line — an agent will be with you as soon as possible."

Recently, I called this number in order to ask a simple question and I waited for six-hours, twenty-one minutes and fifty seconds before giving up. I have the screen shot on my phone to prove it. Why did I do this? It did not start out as an intention. But the previous night my wife and I watched a challenge on Survivor in which a contestant, Christian Hubicki (originally from Baltimore), hung onto an uncomfortable perch for more than five hours in the hot sun before beating all of his competitors. So after an hour on the phone, my wife challenged me to wait at least as long, in relative comfort, as Christian. I did. It was tough; it was absurd; and I still don't have the answer to my tax question.

Thank you, State of Maryland, for contributing to my development as an existentialist. Our tax dollars at work.

Steve Warres, Baltimore

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