Saturday, October 31, 2009

U.S.A., Oregon, Lake Oswego

I spent my final week in Ulaanbaatar undergoing a tax audit. It turned out all right in the end (the tax auditor seemed to go easier on me after I explained that I was not a businessman but a writer, and she asked me what my book was about and I answered "philosophy" and everyone in the room laughed), but I had to spend three days sitting in the tax department, running around the city gathering supporting documentation for events that took place three to four years ago, being suspected of hiding income "like a Mongolian," being threatened with many hundreds of dollars' worth of fines, and worrying that the situation would not be resolved before my outbound flight and that I would not be allowed to leave the country. I told this to my brother in North Dakota over the telephone, and he said, "That's why I like talking to you; you make my troubles seem so small: 'Gee, it was cold last night and I forgot to plug my truck in, so I had to crank it for ten minutes this morning before it would start. Oh well, at least I didn't have to go through a tax audit in Outer Mongolia.'"