Topic: "Who's We, White Boy?"(3)
Stan Sulak stood no more than 5'6" and in his suit-and-tie weighed no more than 145 pounds. He was far from an imposing figure as he wheeled through inner-city neighborhoods in Chicago in his egg shell white, un-air-conditioned, Ford motorcar with US Government plates in the summer of 1969. Newly authorized IRS employees were usually assigned "low-dollar" investigations on the assumption that if he (or she) screwed something up, then it would have very little consequence. Revenue Officer Sulak, on the job just three months, was assigned an inventory of "Federal Beer Stamp" investigations.
The "Federal Beer Stamp" was required to be posted in any location that sold either beer or wine. The stamp cost $24, and it was good for one year. Should a stamp not be re-newed, and the applicant not respond to correspondence, then someone such as Sulak would be discharged to investigate, and to secure a renewal, collect the fee, and the resultant late-filing penalties and interest.
Sulak pulled up to the curb in a section of Southside Chicago where there were a number of bars. Several of his investigations were along this particular street, so he parked and planned to walk door-to-door. His shirt and suit pants were soaked clean through (air conditioning in a government motorcar was considered a 'luxury item' and was not permitted), so he left the passenger's side front window down an inch or so when he locked the motorcar. He assembled the necessary paperwork and put the respective investigations in street address numerical order. He walked to the door of the first establishment, noting that the name of the establishment was the "BPP of America," and entered.
As his eyes adjusted to the relative darkness, he noted a number of individuals about the bar room silently staring at him. Over the bar he noted the sign identifying the "Black Panther Party National Headquarters." It should be noted at this point, dear reader, that Mr. Sulak was unlikely to be identified upon first glance as a potential new recruit. Sulak walked to the bar, climbed upon a stool, and asked to speak to the manager. Actually, by all appearances the scene probably called for him to order a cherry limeade, with a straw.
A very large, and dark-complexioned, gentleman at the bar stood across from Sulak and so identified himself. Utilizing some invective that escaped Sulak's immediate recognition, the manager inquired as to his identity and purpose. Sulak carefully reached into his suit coat breast pocket and exhibited his Internal Revenue Service credentials, and said "I am Revenue Officer Stan Sulak with the Chicago District of the Internal Revenue Service, and I need to see your Federal Beer Stamp, please."
"My what?," said the astounded bar tender.
"Your Federal Beer Stamp. It is about the size of a business envelope, and is required to be posted adjacent to the cash register in any establishment selling beer or wine."
A smile crept across the incredulous expression on the face of the bartender, "Well, looks like I happen to have misplaced my 'Federal Beer Stamp,' so am I to assume that some little white-assed midget is here to cuff me and take me 'downtown'?" Laughter emanated from every throat in the room, except for Revenue Officer Sulak, who only smiled.
"No Sir, my mission is to secure a renewal of your Federal Beer Stamp, and to collect the fee, late-filing penalties, and of course, interest."
"Oh, of course, interest. And exactly how much will all of this cost me?"
"Well, sir, the stamp costs $24, the penalty is 25% of the tax, and interest compounds at 6%. The total as of today will be $30.66."
The bartender's mouth fell slightly ajar and he simply stared at Sulak for several moments. No one spoke.
"You mean to tell me the US of A has sent a white-ass midget into the headquarters of the Black Panther Party to harass its members over thirty damn dollars?"
"And 66 cents," said Sulak.
The laughter continued unabated throughout the rest of Sulak's time in the bar. Tears were shed by every person in the place while Sulak sweated over the blanks on the application and the completion of the receipt. When finished, he adjusted his tie, slid off the stool, thanked his host, and exited gracefully onto the street outside.
Adjusting to the sunlight, he heard the lock on the door behind him engage. It was then that he noticed his egg shell white, un-air-conditioned, Ford motorcar, with US Government plates, had had its tires replaced by cinder blocks. Noting that the only telephone booth in sight was obviously inoperative, and that there were a paucity of apparently concerned citizens about, Sulak decided that his best course was to, as inconspicuously as possible, walk the 36 blocks back to his office.
Arriving at that location a little after five o'clock, Sulak found that the door was locked. Being a relatively new employee, he had not been issued a key.
Frodo recounts the Saga of Stan Sulak for two reasons. It is appropriate to recognize that there are a lot of Stan Sulak's who serve their country under often difficult circumstances. For Frodo however, this story carried the lesson that one should always have an "exit strategy" when embarking upon any enterprise.
It is too, too bad that many more senior government officials today never got to know Stan Sulak.