IRS Beset by Bed
by Rod Bartchy
stalked the IRS building where I worked. The
smell of fear lingered in the elevators.
Had we failed
to make our quota for lost refunds, dropped calls
or crippling property liens?
was bed bugs!
rumors that bed bugs had been spotted crawling up
unprotected legs while customer service reps
dozed innocently in their IRS taxopedic swivel
chairs. Auditors claimed red spots on their necks
were evidence of bed bug bites, not abrasions
from taxpayer assaults.
through the building.
To deal with
this problem, our internal newsletter announced a
new procedure (the IRS loves procedure).
directed to collect suspicious bugs on tape and
submit said bugs to the building manager. They
would be analyzed. A canine inspection
would follow to see if this was a bed bug
infestation requiring treatment.
not want the entire building to spend their days
submitting ants, fleas, ticks, and flies. After
all, there were wages to heartlessly garnish and
amended returns to arbitrarily reject for trivial
typographic errors. Thus, a wanted picture
of an adult bed bug was provided.
A tiny brown
wedge-shaped head. Six spindly legs and feelers
at odd angles. A banded carapace over its swollen
abdomen. The stuff of nightmares.
bug was discovered on the fourth floor and was
confirmed to be a bed bug by the exterminator. The
area will be inspected by the bug sniffing dog on
Friday at 4:00 pm.
bug sniffing dog. THE bug sniffing dog. No
doubt a summa cum laude graduate of the Bug
Sniffing Academy. I felt we were lucky to
fit our inspection into the dogs busy
appointment schedule. His Fridays were usually
booked, but the dog was good enough to postpone
the 3:45 pee on the Directors carpet and
his 4 4:30 bark at nothing
practice for us. Only the best for the IRS.
Some of my
coworkers were confused. Why wasnt the
exterminator doing the search? Was this a
cost savings measure? No 401k or health
benefits needed for the dog?
questions lingered. Why wasnt the
exterminator just exterminating, instead of
letting Murph (our nickname for the dauntless dog)
aimlessly snuffle the industrial carpet?
Others felt their cats or pet armadillos would do
a better job.
On the day of
the inspection, you could cut the tension with a
knife. Murph wandered erratically, occasionally
pausing at a cubicle, the occupant frozen in
terror that bed bugs were at hand. More often
than not, it was a stray M&M. Still, we
feared the moment when he would wag his tail,
then let loose with a long howl echoing through
It was a
hellish weekend, as we waited to hear the results. Employees
badgered loved ones to do repeated body searches
for potential bed bug bites. Others had
basted their mattresses with bleach, then shrink
wrapped them. Fumigators worked overtime
injecting toxic clouds into homes where phantom
bug sightings had driven inhabitants mad.
The verdict was in. The dog had found more bed
bugs. Treatment was scheduled for Tuesday. The
fourth floor would be saved!
But, alas, our
sense of security was soon shattered that same
Monday just as my shift finished.
bug has been discovered on the fifth floor!
Was it a bed
bug? We tried to stay optimistic but
suspected the worst.
fifth floor Directors suite was now at risk. An
emergency inspection by the dog was scheduled for
Again, we were
thankful for the dog making allowances on such
short notice. Though normally busy upending
cafeteria trash cans for stale donuts and home
fries at that hour, our dedicated canine would be
on the job.
Tuesday we all
breathed a sigh of relief when the email
announced that the dog did not find any bed bug
The bed bugs
had been vanquished!
Life at the
IRS resumed its regular rhythm. Refunds were
cheerfully denied, lengthy audits droned on, and
interest on tax debts mounted inexorably.
saved the day. For that, we canceled the audit of
his employers dubious $800,000 dog pedicure
deduction. It was the least we could do.