10 Reasons Why

10 Things I Learned During the Back-To-School Tax-Free Weekend in Texas

1. There’s really no reason to leave the house for 72 hours.

None. Getting out in this mess is just not worth it. Yes, you might save a few bucks, and who doesn’t want to do that right now. But the side-effects of venturing forth into the madness include frayed nerves, public-berating of unfocused relatives, the regretting of childbirth, and alcoholism. Is it really worth all that? If you end up being institutionalized, clutching discounted receipts and forever babbling about long check-out lines that speak of Satan, you really can’t enjoy those few extra dollars in your checking account, now can you?

Sadly, despite the preceding two weeks of retailers blaring ads about the Tax-Free Extravaganza, it’s quite easy to forget that such a thing is taking place and simple tasks like running to get milk or return a rented jackhammer can turn into excursions of mind-numbing face-clawing, because…

2. Everyone wants in on the parade.

Suddenly, even non-school-supply merchants start pretending that they are bastions of back-to-the-books bonanzas. Flyers arrive in your mailbox pronouncing that you can get deeply-discounted reams of notebook paper from home-improvement stores, dry-cleaners and gynecologists. (“Come spread your legs with us and help support your local high school!”) It’s ridiculous.

Amazingly, lots of folks buy into this below-the-belt luring, and rush to invade theoretical “tax-free weekend safe zones”, shattering the innocence of people like me who tried to avoid the whole mess in the first place. You can’t even innocently pick up some pesticide for those hell-spawned red ants without climbing over screaming urchins who are slugging it out in Lawn & Garden over the last remaining Dora the Explorer backpack. (Which was the only Dora to begin with, uncreatively shoved in between some hydrangeas and marigolds because home-improvement stores don’t normally carry school supplies and they don’t have their own aisle.)

3. The traffic is unreal.

Granted, any fool knows that you simply can’t go anywhere near shopping centers or strip malls during this weekend of insanity. But the frugal parents must get to those places somehow, from wherever it is that they dwell, and this means that all highways and byways that are remotely near the malls will be cram-packed with soccer moms, driving vans full of bouncing brats that are only excited about school supplies until they actually have to use them.

And don’t try using any alternate routes to get where you’re going, since those formerly-secretive avenues will be filled with those same vans. The drivers are already slipping toward madness and they are desperate for any time-saving shortcut that might prevent them from doing something unspeakable that will be turned into a movie-of-the-week on Lifetime. Starring Tori Spelling, holding an apple pie in one hand and a prescription bottle in the other. (“Excuse me, Little Billy. Did you just disparage the lunchbox that Mommy lovingly picked out for you at the gas station on the corner? I don’t care if you’ve never heard of the Backstreet Boys, if you want to eat you’re going to use it!”)

4. The school supply requirements are quite different from back in the day.

In my time, the shopping list was generally this: five shirts, two pairs of jeans, a pencil box, and some glue. Now I see shopping carts loaded with computers, netbooks, wireless phones (who do these children need to call?), backpacks that come equipped with ironing boards and wet bars, hundreds of those horrid stretchy bracelets for “social development”, and a personal assistant who will carry all this crap to school for them.

5. Some people have an unusual concept of proper school attire.

Maybe it’s just me, but one would think that an educational wardrobe for a third-grade girl should not include pint-size versions of Daisy Dukes, navel-baring frocks, bustiers with the image of Lady Gaga on each cup, and gym shoes with stiletto heels. Then again, if Momma is pushing the shopping cart while dragging along a stripper pole just in case her services are needed, we probably have some apples that didn’t fall far and we are past the critical point of intervention and reformation.

6. Perhaps the need for some type of tax relief might have something to do with the parents not understanding value versus spending ability.

You’re going to buy that child a pair of Nike tennis shoes that costs $150 per foot? Are you kidding me? I can remember when my rent was less than $200. If you can justify that kind of expenditure in your budget, you clearly don’t need this weekend to help you get through it all. (And what extraordinary thing could that child possibly have done to deserve footwear that costs more than some Texas teachers’ salaries?)

Go back home and do something useful like teach your child to earn an allowance and buy his own damn shoes, and let the people who really do need the tax break spend less time standing in line behind you and the apparent long-lost child of a European royal family.

7. I’m amazed that Governor Greg Abbott still allows Texas to have this tax-free weekend.

Perhaps he supports the initiative because it financially benefits his corporate sponsors, there is that angle. (After all, when was the last time a Republican governor in Texas approved any legislation that didn’t involve kickbacks for a relative, campaign donor or former business partner that knows what he did last summer?) But making it a little easier for the children of Texas to attend school must cause him considerable concern, because the last thing he needs for his political career to endure is to have an educated public in this state.

8. One of the ripple effects of this weekend is that so many people are out and about that all the restaurants are crowded.

And this is the worst sin of all, as far as I’m concerned. Because when I want to eat, I should be able to do so without any undue impediments. It’s just better for everybody that my food requirements are met in a timely manner, trust me on this. I get a wee bit disgruntled when there isn’t a booth available at Applebee’s and we have to sit at one of those inane tables in the middle of the room, where the hell-raising beastly children can run past and whack my elbows because their parents are too busy on Facebook to remember that they still have offspring to raise properly.

9. Heat complicates things.

It’s 108 degrees, people. In the shade. No one should be doing anything right now. End of story. Why can’t we have a tax-free weekend when it’s cooler, like in November? Make those kids wear last year’s clothes for three months or so. Maybe then they’ll be a little more appreciative of finally getting something new, and not expect Mommy to shell out for high-end couture just so they can look cute in Algebra I and flirt with that boy wearing the Nike kicks that forced his family to take out a second mortgage.

10. Exxon Mobil and General Electric don’t have to pay taxes on squat. Ever.

And we only get one weekend? And it only applies to things that don’t really apply to most folks? Something is rotten in the state of Exxon. This should not be. In the words of my granny, despite our political differences, get off your butt and vote.

P.S. For those who might be interested, I’ll be selling my used school textbooks, with critical answers to important tests scribbled in the margins, in the alley behind my house for the remainder of the week. Don’t worry about them being 40 years old. From what I can tell, Texas schoolbooks haven’t changed since Mamie Eisenhower served tea in the White House. And all sales are tax free!



(Originally published in “The Sound and the Fury” on 08/21/11. Revised and updated with extra flair for this post. We’ve changed governors since that original bit, but the factory model remains the same…)


29 replies »

  1. “when was the last time a Republican governor in Texas approved any legislation that didn’t involve kickbacks for a relative, campaign donor or former business partner” …. I wish this was a joke.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Make em go shoeless and give the money saved to starving Africans. And before they do that, make em read a book so they know where the heck Africa actually is … Draconian? Moi? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. When mine were in school, I got every conceivable supply available two months before school started. These sales? Ha. I don’t know how they do them now, but Loser’s grandma worked at a department store and yes…there were “back to school specials. 25% off the original price of all clothing.”
    Well…..back then, the stores were shut on Sunday so people could go pray for a good spot in line the next day, while the employees switched all the tags to reflect a price…you guessed it. 25% higher than they were the previous day. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly. It’s ridiculous how things get twisted when the corporate world is involved. After all, if a company can afford to sell something at a discounted price one day, why aren’t they selling it at that price every day? And why does the public only get limited “tax-free” days when those same corporations get unlimited days? Sorry for the ranting, but you know I can’t help calling things out when I see them… 😉


      • It’s all about greed and the almighty buck. Profit, profit, profit.
        I watched a 60 minute episode once about how all the factories have been shut down and everything is being shipped overseas because they can be made so much cheaper.
        Diane Sawyer did an experiment where she went to a home and took every single item out and had it replaced with only things made in the USA. The only thing she couldn’t find was a microwave but found everything else.
        The whole point was that if all of us would only buy things made in the USA, it would cost $33.00 extra a year….but if we would bring our manufacturing back over here, it would be even lower. $33.00. Wow.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Tax free? Wow.
    1. Mebbe not, but that 72 hours? Is the exact moment you run out of essentials. Or have a wicked craving for corn chips that will not be satisfied. Remember Murphy rules. And he doesn’t care about taxes..
    2. Of course they do. We’re a nation of attention whores.
    3. Time to lobby for harsher rules about who gets to drive. ‘Course you and I might be excluded … oh forget this one. I was stuck in the drive thru at Sonic yesterday at around noon (yeah, I’m a moron) and am still crabby. I’m for nuking every mini van full of soccer moms and bratty offspring and have been for years. Ignore me.
    4. Enter the Age of Crass Consumerism. Generation ‘C”…. I wonder what THEIR offspring will be like. Apocalypse anyone?
    5. Well sketchy individuals have to get started SOMEWHERE learning their trade for life.
    6. That whole tax free thing is still wadding up my gray cells…you know we never heard of such a thang up North
    7. See #6
    8. Stick out your foot. Pretend surprise when one of the little hell’s angels falls on its face. Plausible deniability.
    9. Yep. For EVERYONE. Except for #1, it’d pay to stock up on tequila, vodka or whatever libation of choice is your thing, have a LOT of ice available, a commercial grade A/C and/or covered pool, and little clothing. Staying at home is the best cure-all for this one.
    10. And you wrapped it up nicely by targeting the exact reason that tax-free events occur in some lucky states. ‘they’ gotta let the common (wo)man feel ‘equal’, right? Wouldn’t do to acknowledge the glaring chasm that exists between ‘them’ and ‘us’. Oh no.

    Hee. LOVED this list btw… you’re still hitting them out of the park! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • 1. True enough. If it wasn’t for last-minute, cannot-be-denied urges to shove a particular thing in my mouth, I could stay in my house for years at a time…

      2. Yep. And even if we’re not whores, we sure recognize the bordello.

      3. I’m sure that I would be excluded. I have a hard time on the road, because I expect other people to be decent, and that clearly isn’t going to happen in modern society…

      4. I weep openly about what is being created.

      5. But can’t they quietly learn their trades outside of the public view?

      6. This is just a by-product of living in a state where there are oil wells on every corner. No one with any degree of responsibility is planning for the day when the wells run dry…

      7. Ditto.

      8. Trust me, my foot is permanently extended. (“And there goes another one. Two points!”)

      9. I cannot differ with your thoughts in any way.

      10. Completely on target. So many Texans look at these three measly days as a Sign from Above that politicians are actually looking out for them, so they keep voting the same bastards back in. Sigh…


    • You realize that one of these days I am seriously going to show up at your accommodations in San Miguel de Allende, knocking on your door with a suitcase and a prayer, right? 😉


  5. Funny what gets people excited, shopping wise. We have no such days here, but if we had and it was during my back-to-school era, I’m pretty sure I’d shop the weekend before and happily pay the few extra bucks, just to escape the madness.
    #5: Right?! But the thing is, unless they shop at “Mormons R Us”, there are no modest clothes to be found. Bare bellies, off the shoulder, super-short shorts, that’s all they got, there ain’t no more. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t remember any of this fervent intensity when I was a child, whether it involved school supplies or errant fashion choices. What I do remember? Saving my pennies to buy anything I needed for school beyond the basics that my parents would allow. (They had a baseline and they stuck to it; any extravagance was my own pursuit.) And any student who dressed beyond their years was quickly whisked to the principal’s office. I’ve always been a progressive, but trashiness is trashiness…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. So this is a real thing in Texas? We don’t pay tax on clothes here so I’m not sure it would be that big of a savings… My son needed 5 folders, 5 notebooks, a PLASTIC ruler (why not wood? why not metal?) and those damn Ticonderoga pencils that are five times more expensive than regular pencils. WHY? I bought him a dab cat t-shirt from Target and called it a day. Also, #9…YAAAASSSSSS.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I had never heard of these Tax Free Weekends before, so I did a quick online search. I was surprised to discover bowling shirts are tax exempt, but watches are not. And is it true the savings are only about $8 per every $100 spent?

    This weekend sounds like a wild time, as you pointed out. Your observations of humanity are Spot On, as always. LOVED the description of the Back to School Shopping List.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yes, it’s true that the savings are only $8 out of very $100 spent (as our sales tax rate runs about 8%, though it does depend on the county and city). Still, when a family has 46 kids and they all need the same thing, it’s worth the effort, as long as you don’t mind losing your sanity along the way. Then again, your kids are probably going to take that anyway… 😉


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