Lipstick & Muzak
By Allison Adams 07-10-10 / Submitted to The Greeneville Sun on 07-11-10
I’ve been a timely, loyal American income taxpayer for the past 36 years.
Several weeks ago I had the occasion to visit one of your satellite offices near my hometown, the name of which I prefer not to reveal at this time.
I had to go there, to that satellite office, to get a certified copy of a document – Form Number Something Or Other. That’s all. I just needed one certified copy of one little thing.
I had to go there because my husband said he was too busy to go. He’s never too busy to play a round of golf though. I’m just sayin’.
I don’t mind telling you that I was a tiny bit nervous about going – not because I am now, or have ever been involved in any fiscal wrongdoing, but because the mere mention of your agency makes most folks a feel a little jittery - even nauseous.
Forgive my candor, but I think you might have an image problem.
Some people – not me – but some people say unflattering things about you when they think you’re not looking. Not that you’re ever not looking.
I’m writing to tell you that I think I can help with that – your possible image problem, that is.
If the satellite office I visited near my hometown is an accurate representation of your other offices, then I think a little makeover is warranted.
Lets start with the expressionless armed guard posted just outside the door. He did not make me feel welcome.
Then there’s the office décor – if you can call it that. Everything is gray. Gray everything is depressing.
So you see, your visitors are first made to feel uneasy by the armed guard, and then depressed by the drab color-scheme. Barely in the door and your visitors are already feeling nervous, and wondering if life is really worth living.
I’m sure that’s not the atmosphere you’re going for.
Gray is a good color when it’s used as a background for other colors, such as fuchsia, or indigo, or aubergine, or even basic navy blue. You can introduce pops of color by adding some simple accessories, like candles, or throw pillows.
Let’s talk about the furniture arrangement in the waiting area. It looked as if all the furniture was under arrest. You know – everything was lined up against the wall.
One exception would be the chairs, which were lined up in rows, facing in the same direction. Everyone sitting in them stared at the same bare wall. This would have been a great opportunity to create a cozy conversation area for your guests by simply rearranging those chairs, don’t you agree?
About that bare wall, and the other bare walls. It would have been nice to see something other than a sign threatening my imprisonment if I used my cellular phone, or brandished my firearm while I was on the premises.
I’m not suggesting that you need to hang museum quality art. A simple travel poster or two would have warmed up the place.
How about offering some outdated magazines for people to read, for heaven’s sake?
Think about adding a lamp. Proper lighting can really help set the right mood!
And if you think you’re providing any privacy by placing your IRS agents at their desks behind 5-foot tall cubicle walls, you’re sadly mistaken. The rest of us patiently waiting our turn could hear every single word exchanged between IRS agent and loyal American taxpayer Now Being Served.
And also the whimpering.
You really should consider making available a box of government issued Kleenex (covered with a hand-crocheted cozy) so those poor, sobbing, taxpayers could grab a couple on their way out the door.
Anyway, I think if you made those few changes in the office décor – you know, a little “lipstick” – and perhaps if you hired a security guard with a personality, it would make the waiting more bearable for your customers, and in turn do wonders for your image.
Well, maybe not wonders. But it would certainly be a step in the right direction.
Also, a little Muzak might help muffle the blubbering.
I’m just sayin’.