So, I recently drew the short straw and ended up president of our housing committee. This was after the entire community (and by entire community I mean enough homeowners and proxies to have the minimum quorum necessary (by-law, as it is written) to hold a vote) elected to boot out the old committee and bring in a new one.
Now, far be it from me to criticize others, but the old committee was a posse of empire builders, soviet style rapacious meddlers, as it were. You know the types, forever holding up copies of joint use agreements, pointing to fine (and outdated) print to demand that other homeowners go through them to replace doors or build decks or, heaven forbid, add railings to front steps.
You know, assholes.
Still, as much as I found them egregious, we’re not the types to change anything about our abode, either, so it wasn’t personal. We bought ‘as is’ because we like it ‘as is’ or we would have bought something else. And being nickeled and dimed on fees wasn’t killing us, although the introduction of a parking authority did annoy us. That’s because even a cursory glance at the internet should tell any sentient being that parking authorities cause more problems than they solve. They’re like leaf blowers that way. Sure, they blow leaves around, but they’re being blown onto your property by a neighbour’s workfare slave (not wearing ear protection) at 8:00 Saturday morning when city by-laws apparently decree you can start making deafening noise to ruin the peace and quiet of sleep for your neighbours.
So, although I went to the meeting armed with a proxy from my absent beau (absent because he doesn’t like meetings (d’oh! outfoxed again) and unnecessary, since, of course, it’s one vote per unit, not per person in the unit, duh!) I had no intention of actually participating in such a pro-active way that I would end up getting myself elected. I just wanted the old power mad types out (they’d been there from the beginning of time, apparently) and the new “it’s private property and we’ll put our doors where are windows are if we want to” (and here I paraphrase Cher who once told reporters that she’d put her “tits on my back if I want to”) types in.
Alas, to bolster confidence in the new slate of candidates, the first time the old guard had ever been challenged, I sat with them, spoke to a couple of issues in support of their/our position (old out, anybody else in), clapped and jeered at the appropriate moments, and just generally transformed myself into a sitting duck for a nomination.
“Are you on the slate of candidates for election?”
“No, I’m just here to support -”
“Well we need a fifth candidate so I’m adding your name to the list of nominees.”
“Oh, well, gosh, I never, oh my, I hardly, hm, while I’m flattered beyond, not prepared, acceptance speech only half written, gown at the cleaners -”
“Is that ‘suey’ or ‘sewy’?”
And then there was an election and now I’m president. (The popular candidates, the first, second, and third place finishers are the actual brains of the outfit and have longer terms. But I’m still president. The fifth place finisher is secretary. So let that be a lesson to all you fifth place finishers because being the secretary means you have to take minutes, and taking minutes is a difficult and thankless job and you really don’t get any respect, either, because everybody knows that you must have finished last. Honestly? You’d be better off not running at all. Being made secretary on a committee is like being handed the sticks in an all triangles band. Also, not showing up to the first committee meeting when positions are assigned is not a good idea because it almost doesn’t matter where you placed – if you don’t show up, you WILL be assigned the position of secretary. Our secretary did both, finished fifth AND didn’t show up to the first meeting. Ka-ching!)
Now, we have a property management company that compiles incomprehensible financial statements for us (incomprehensible to me, at least, but that may be because I am functionally retarded in the area of financial statement comprehension) and a nice young man who attends our meetings on its behalf, but it’s up to the committee to represent the interests of the homeowners, and instruct the nice young company man accordingly.
As president, my first decree was: I hereby restrict our sphere of influence to 1) roofs, and 2) parking lots. Which was fine by our young company man, too, since it cuts down dramatically on his workload (which immediately had us questioning the point of having a property management company handle our affairs at all, but I digress), freeing him up to spend more time deflecting the old committee members.
I know, “But I thought you replaced the old committee members, Sewie?” Indeed, so did I. Alas, no sooner had the old committee members been replaced, then they petitioned for a recount, petitioned for financial records/minutes/contracts – you name it, whatever it is that has to do with committee business, they want in on it.
And, you know, being the laissez faire types that we are, we were like, “Wtf?! Screw those assholes! They lost, we won – we’re calling the shots now! Back to your hidey holes, ya power mad losers!”
I’m kidding. We shared information until our young company man said, “I think I’ll have to tell them that my private fee just went up to $100/hour.” And so it was that he proved his worth and will probably remain forever in our hire because, at the end of the volunteer committee day, it pays to pay an outsider, a professional if you will, to tidy up all those loose ends and assholes of yesterday’s volunteer committee, no hard feelings, just doing my job, ma’am, money up front, cheque cleared before I even respond “no”, please and thank you.
Sadly, our professional shield was unable to attend an information session we decided to hold with regard to parking issues (ongoing abuse of visitor parking – and as a car non-owner, you can only imagine how tedious I find all of this parking yimmer yammer that monopolizes every aspect of people’s lives these days, it seems). And who should show up to heckle and take copious notes? That’s right, the old committee.
Uh hunh. Drunk. And what happens when a drunk heckler from the old committee shows up and starts yelling at the new committee that they’re a bunch of “idiots” and shouting at the wives of certain new committee members that they should “shut their stupid faces”?
Uh hunh. A rumble breaks out between the old guard and the new guard and fists start flying and bystanders start screaming and the president realizes no one thought to supply her with a gavel so she could bang a table and demand, “Order! Order! I’ll have order in the committee room!” so she has to use a children’s book instead (our meetings take place at an elementary school – after hours) and no one listens because actively trying to separate the rumblers.
Anyway, no one was hurt, move along, nothing to see here (the rumble was really just one very drunk heckler and one hot tempered defender of virtue, both d’un certain age, i.e. old enough to be retired and know better) and the treasurer (the first place finisher and brains of the outfit) and I retired to her townhouse to share a bottle of wine (we were joined at the end of the bottle by officer #1 and defender of virtue for the obligatory female “tsk tsking” of men and their fisticuff tendencies).
What’s interesting is that I live so much of my life on the internet that my immediate concern for our defender of virtue was that he not end up being sued by our drunk heckler and when I expressed it, he looked at my like I was from cyber space and said, “Hunh?”
So I started to explain about the internet and how men sue each other all the time over name-calling, let alone fisticuffs, and he looked at me as if I was from cyber space some more and finally I realized, “Ah, instead of duking it out, they’re hiring professionals to decide the ‘winner’ for them!”
Now, I don’t know if that’s good or bad (and I’m clearly lying here because obviously I think it’s not just bad, it’s a sign of the coming apocalypse, which I fear less now thanks to a life largely wasted in cyber space) but it sure represents a divide between the old ways and the new (and bear in mind that I, too, would rather pay a professional to deal with the dross of volunteerism, although I’m not bragging about it, that’s for sure, or, at least, I don’t think I am…).
Anyway, I thought that to be an interesting revelation about how many of us prefer to live now and why we really can’t complain too much about the cost of living since we’re mostly responsible for driving it up through our eagerness to hire professionals to handle virtually (pun intended) every aspect of our lives.
In other words, maybe we all can’t just get along and have to pay the price for that – literally.