I was in a neighborhood store the other day so I could purchase rock salt. This was necessary due to the relentless onslaught of snow this area has received, combined with my urge to be a considerate neighbor and sidewalk provider. While putting my change away, a grizzly, older man asked the cashier for a pack of Newports. He wanted to confirm the price as advertised outside.

“The Newports cost what it says outside, right?”

The cashier looked at the sign in the window and said, “Yes. Plus tax. So it will be $5.89.”

The grizzly, older man sucked his teeth and said, “Damn taxes.” Then he looked at me. We made eye contact and he said, “These taxes are killing me!”

He was calling out The Man and he was looking for me to provide some kind of agreement or nod of approval. I’m pretty sure he wanted my support in creating a Roxborough Tea Party, where we dress up like people from Manayunk and dump all of the newly purchased rock salt and cigarettes into a giant pile of snow in front of the store. We would conclude our victory over the oppressive forces above us by high fiving and writing a Declaration of Independence or Constitution, and then having a parade while HBO makes a mini-series about us.

Standing in the store with my change put away, I didn’t smile or nod, or reply in any way. I was busy daydreaming about tea parties and contemplating my options. I wanted to say, “No, I’m pretty sure it’s the cigarettes that are responsible for the killing. We can’t pin this one on the taxes.” I was mostly trying to figure out if there was a way to convey that message without sounding like a complete smart ass.

There isn’t.