They say the only two certainties in life are death and taxes. Well, that's probably correct in most cases. But then you think about Jesus Christ, or Charlie Haughey, and you remember that there's always someone bucking every system.
Anyhow, I had to go and file some returns at the O'Connell Street Revenue office yesterday. That was, of course, great fun. My mate Rusty the Taxman had warned me that the Revenue office had moved to temporary accommodation, and he wasn't lying.
The usual queues of non-nationals seeking PPS numbers to legitimise their stints working behind the counter of my local shops were still present, of course. But with the original building around the corner being refurnished, the current Revenue office is even less cosy and comfortable than the original.
Plonked in some rent-a-room palace next to a shop selling pictures of the Virgin Mary, there isn't even a seat anywhere. You have to queue, standing, for hours. Then you finally reach the revenue officers, who are sat at their desks, and you have to stand there too, like naughty schoolchildren brought before the principal, while they ruffle your papers and pretend to be busy.
Anyhow, I took my ticket from the machine, surveyed the mammoth queues of various Balts and Africans waiting to legitimise their work in the eyes of the Irish exchequer, and promptly fled to Burger King next door, where there are seats a-plenty.
I reckoned that I could peacefully relax and read my paper for a good half hour, then wander back into the Revenue's temporary home just in time to be called.
So I was quietly mulling over my crap coffee when I was approached by a gold-toothed, heavily bangled Roma gypsy (see image of similar above), a grubby hand thrust under my nose, seeking money.
I pointed out to her that begging is illegal in Ireland. She shrugged and went to the next table instead. Looking over her shoulder, I could see three others like her working the room.
I went to the poor lad whose job it is to clean the place and asked him to throw the beggars out. Let's call him Pablo. Pablo is from abroad, and he came to Ireland to work. He has possibly one of the worst jobs in Ireland, cleaning up the tables in O'Connell Street's Burger King.
Every twenty minutes, a load of Roma gypsy beggars come into his place of work and annoy everyone in it, begging for money. He used to tell them to stop. That's when they stopped him, on his way home after his shift, and threatened to kill him. He's seen them getting into Mercs at the top of O'Connell Street with Dunnes' Stores bags full, literally full, of cash.
So he sympathised with me, but explained that he wasn't going to risk his life or job trying to stop these gold-toothed scam artists from begging anymore.
Back in the tax office, waiting for my number to be called, I looked around at all the faces - the black faces, the white faces, the yellow faces - that surrounded me. I listened to the Russian language, Polish language, Spanish language and French language being spoken.
I thought about all the decent people from so many different places, like Pablo in the burger bar next door, who had come to Ireland simply to earn a living.
Then I thought about the Roma gypsies, their begging scams, their threats on the life of a poor man asking them to stop plaguing his workplace, their Mercedes lift home in the evening.
And I wondered when I'd ever see any of them in the tax office seeking a PPS number and filing a tax return. And I wondered when the Gardai on the most policed street in Ireland are ever going to give poor Pablo a hand and arrest and deport this criminal gang of scum gypsies.