Earlier this week we had our homeowners association annual meeting, the second since we moved in to our condo. Janie was working late so I was forced to attend solo. We met in the pool house and members from the other units made it safely across the parking lot where there seemed to be a sudden blast of snow, which was ridiculous because this past weekend it was beautiful and sunny and kind of warm.
The only real lesson to be learned at these meetings is that elderly people can talk about nothing for extraordinary lengths of time. I think we spent 45 minutes debating whether or not to send a letter to somebody. A LETTER! TO SOMEONE ACROSS THE STREET! The conclusion? Yes, we will send that letter. So worthwhile.
If you’ve never been privy to a home owner’s association meeting, let me sum it up for you: introduce the newbies, bitch and moan, elect the board, go home.
Since we are such a small building – only 8 units in total – these things should be speedy, but we have several members who are very old and who like to talk a lot about shit that’s not important, like hey – let’s talk about this $7.00. Time is money, people! Time is money and your chit-chat about $7.00 is eating into my time allotted for watching America’s Next Top Model. I’m going to have to charge you my Eliot Spitzer’s prostitute’s hourly rate. You owe me $50.00 $5000.00.
Our Secretary/Treasurer is retiring from his duties after 30 years of keeping the HOA books because he’s moving into retirement housing. This was his last meeting and maybe because he had a wild hair knowing that 30 years of reconciling bank statements was finally over, he decided not to wear his hearing aid. While we were engaging in serious HOA business conversation, someone was talking about shoes and our outgoing Secretary/Treasurer yelled “YOU WANT TO RAISE THE DUES!?” all incredulously because we’d just spent 20 minutes hearing about why we didn’t need to raise them. He was indignant, “I already said that we don’t need to raise the dues!” When someone corrected him he acted like it was everyone else’s fault, “I didn’t wear my hearing aid and I just can’t hear you people with your voice going up and down like that!”
After we finished up two hours worth of discussions on important issues like, “What happened to that guy we pay to vacuum the stairs?”, “What if we just walk across the street to talk rather than sending that letter?” and “Look at how Linsey drools when she sleeps!”, we elected board members. Since our Secretary/Treasurer was being replaced by the current President of the board, we needed someone new to fill his spot. The remaining board members were re-elected and the crowd was polled to see if there were any nominations or volunteers. The loud-stomping neighbors above us used the opportunity to raise my hopes by telling us they were going to retire and move to Oregon by the end of the year, so they couldn’t volunteer. Since there were already people from three other units on the board and two others being vacated in the next year, the only possible choices were the woman living next to us, the new guy two floors above her and me.
The woman living next to us flat out refused, maybe because she’s needs all her free time to practice for her role as Christine in Phantom of the Opera. I only guess this from the very loud renditions of Angel of Music coming from the other side of that brick wall. The new guy brought a binder filled with the condo bylaws and documents and had been attending several community meetings regarding the issue to be addressed in the letter, so he seemed the likeliest candidate to me. That’s why, when everyone was staring at me to volunteer, I pointed to him and said, “What about him? This guy has a notebook!” to which he responded, “Oh, uh, well…it’s just a binder!” I don’t think he cared for my keen observations about his organizational skills and, I’m sorry to say, it seems unlikely he and his wife will be inviting us over for dinner anytime soon.
He declined my heartfelt nomination saying that he thought he was too new to participate, so the others mumbled and started looking at me again. I asked what the position entailed and instead of answering me with real words that meant something I got a general “not much.” It seemed easy enough. If George Bush could do it, I thought I could. So, I volunteered and that’s how I was voted onto the board.
After we adjourned, I was asked to stay behind for a special meeting of the board. I felt cheated because “not much” didn’t seem to me like it meant stay here longer to talk with 80 year olds about the P.O. Box, but I did stay and it was during those 15 minutes that some very important things happened.
As the others filed out, I started to think about the presidency I’d just inherited. I thought about crumpling up that letter we’d been arguing about and, instead, declaring war on the building across the street. We’d take it by force and we’d let the surrounding buildings know that the choice was theirs: you’re either with us or against us! About two seconds later, the V.P. swept in and decided he’d be President “because I’ve done it a couple of times before.” I though there were rules! You don’t get to be President a couple of times and then when someone who hasn’t done it before gets the job TAKE IT AWAY FROM THEM. I mean, if that was how it worked in this country then the last eight years would never have happened and we’d be back living in a world where Clinton was in the White House insisting that definitions of sexual acts were too vague and Janie would take her shirt off every time I asked her to. But we all know that’s not how the world works!
As we sat around the table and it was decided I was going to be Vice President with still no idea as to what it entailed, the outgoing Secretary/Treasurer looked at me and said “Well, now we need to get you signing authority on the checking account.” I had not even thought about that, about accessing tens if not hundreds of dollars for a campaign to overthrow my nemesis! As evil machinations swirled in my brain, the outgoing Secretary/Treasurer yelled out, “I will try to get my name off the authorization, but they still haven’t removed Robert and he’s dead!”