I arrive at the Ventura County Clerk at 9am. I have thirty minutes before the unwashed masses flood the office, seeking marriage applications, Fish and Game forms and notaries public.
I’m there to change a partnership to a sole proprietorship. I dutifully fill out my Fictitious Business Name application and prepare my check.
I’m called forward, presenting my paperwork. Surely, its a formality, always has been. The clerk consults a list. She tells me my address matches Matilija Mailcall. And anyone on that list operates PMB’s, or Personal Mail Boxes, and thus is inadmissible as an address for my FBN.
I explain that Matilija Mailcall is legally authorized to receive official documents in my business’ name, and in five years of filing documents with the clerk for multiple businesses at this address, it has never been a problem.
She bristles. I have inadvertently peed in her Wheaties.
The clerk throws a left jab. I need an address for your office. If I walked in to your office, who would talk to me about your business?
I deftly side-step and parry. You can’t make me have an office. I work at Starbucks. I have a legal representative receive my official mail.
A cut appears above her left eye. Round 1 ends. The clerk climbs out of the ring to see a supervisor. She enters a cubicle in my line-of-sight 60 feet away.
It’s clearly a supervisor’s cubicle – it boasts higher walls than the subordinate cubicles nearby and possesses a window. A crowd gathers. Four, now five people crowd into the cubicle meant for two at best. The cubicle overfloweth with clerks. The excitement is palpable.
Meanwhile, I call Follette at Matilija Mailcall. Had no idea this list exists, she says. She assures me that I have dutifully filled out Postal Form 1583 which is an “official application of delivery of mail through an agent.” They are a CMRA, a Commercial Mail Receiving Agency, for chrissakes. I have lawyers with boxes here and have never had any problems!, she assures me. Follette scans and emails the 1583 to my phone and wishes me luck.
I sit for fifteen minutes. The bell sounds for Round 2. The cubicle with the tall walls empties and the clerk embarks on the long walk back to the counter. The cut man couldn’t stem the bleeding. She is simultaneously defiant and defeated; she throws in the towel. There was a problem with our computer system and we can’t access the regulations. This is illegal, but we’ll certify your document. Next time we won’t!
I win by technical knockout.
I can’t contain my exuberance. Have a great morning, I offer, as I cut the clerk a check with a PO Box for an address (an even greater violation of the laws of the universe that processed undetected three years prior).
I walk out into the sunlight with an ear-to-ear grin. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.