by Michal Reiben
“I don’t have the faintest idea as to how to run a business,” I say to my sister, who is the owner of the pottery shop ‘The Rainbow’ in Oxford. Soon she’ll be immigrating to America, and even though I am only eighteen she’s decided to leave the business to me.
She waves her hand in the air in a dismissive way and declares, “Don’t worry, the two girls who are already working in the pottery will help you with everything.”
Indeed during the first year, everything runs smoothly. The days flit merrily by. We girls enjoy each other’s company, often find things to laugh about and I am happy. Between tourists and people from the University, we have no lack of customers.
One chilly day a rather dandy looking, middle-aged man with a trim mustache comes striding into the pottery. He is dressed in a sort of tartan suit, beige crisscrossed over in various colored lines.
Underneath of which he’s wearing a beige waistcoat, while his attire is finished off with a maroon bowtie and a floppy rimmed-hat.
“I’m the tax-officer and I’ve come to inquire why you haven’t sent in your tax forms?”
I stand up hesitantly from behind the work table where I’d been engrossed in glazing pots. I feel totally stunned, and answer him in a small, pathetic voice, “I’m afraid I don’t know anything about tax forms.”
“Didn’t you receive the forms?”
“I really don’t know.”
“Show me where you keep your papers and perhaps I can help you?”
“They're over there, I’ll show you.”
I slosh my way over the wet clay covered floor towards a table piled high with all sorts of bills and forms. The tax-officer follows in my wake. Everything on the table is covered in splatters of clay, paint, and dirt.
I point at the filthy pile of stationary and say, “Those are my papers.”
The tax-officer looks disgusted, “You’re something else; you really don’t know how to run a business!”
I began to quiver inside since I think I am going to be in a lot of trouble.
He sighs in frustration and says, “You know what, I’m going to do you a big favor, let’s both pretend that I haven’t come here on this inspection.”
“Yes, that would be great! Thank you so much,” I say in relief.
Just at that moment a large squirt of clay flies off the potter’s wheel, on which one of the girls is working, shoots across the studio and lands squarely onto the tax officer's suit.
“Oh, really, this is too much,” he says. He stands for a moment in consternation as he inspects his soiled suit with a deep scowl on his reddened face. Then he rushes out of the pottery as fast as his legs can carry him. I feel sorry for the poor man especially after he had done me such a big favor.
The girl working on the wheel squeals in merriment, “Did you two see the expression on that poor man’s face?”
“Yes, it was a rather unfortunate accident,” I answer and I start to giggle.
The other two soon join me in my merriment and the three of us begin to laugh uncontrollably until we are doubled over and fall onto the floor. Fat tears roll down our cheeks and we laugh until our ribs hurt.