Views from the Inside of a Homeowners' Meeting
I've had a couple of pretty productive days -- 3600 words Sunday and 2500 yesterday -- so when our annual Home Owners Association Meeting popped up on my calendar, I couldn't come up with a good excuse. It even stopped raining. So off I trudged to the clubhouse last night to get a good look at my neighbors, hear the bad news about our finances, and vote for three new board members from a slate of - - - three candidates.
Wow! If I were a scientist, I think I would have seen the room as a group of petri dishes, in each of which a separate cluster of germs have been incubating for an entire year.
There were the "old-timers," of which I happen to be one. We moved into this condo community together back in 2004, just as soon as our buildings were ready for occupancy (six buildings, 24 housing units in that first batch.) There aren't many of us left. The half-life of a "retirement" community is not very long! But those of us still hanging around were clustered in the back row, many wearing hats to hide the ravages of disease or the disinterest that was leading us to nap through the formalities. We've heard these complaints and arguments a time or two before and know they are not going anywhere.
There was a row of widows and divorcees -- women newly single, inheritors of property they knew little about -- ready to ask the resident men trivial questions they used to ask their husbands. I could belong to that group, too, but the back rows were more fun.
There were the independent women, many long-time residents, who were not about to see their opinions trample on by a small group of "know-it-all" men. They were busy exchanging gossip, reports on who had died, and which units were coming up for sale. The self-appointed Neighborhood Watch mavens were a part of that group.
There was a gentleman in the back who announced that he wanted to run for office so he could find at least a few "like-minded individuals" in the group. That set off warning signals for me. "Like-minded" is usually a code word for "those who share my own particularly vitriolic group of prejudices." Fortunately he was not elected to office.
And finally there were the newcomers -- mostly young-middle-aged couples, looking around wide-eyed at their neighbors and wondering if that back door was really an exit or if it would set off an alarm if they tried to sneak out. (Note that we have no age-restrictions here, but the units are not designed for family living. They appeal to newlyweds who need to make due with that bargain set of "furniture for a whole apartment," to grandparents who are tired of babysitting the grandkids, and to singles of all ages who are just looking for comfort and privacy.)
At the front of the room sat the current board, at least one of whom was asleep. A mixed bag of conclusions resulted from the meeting. The usual suspects were elected (re-elected) to fill the slate of offices. The sprinkler system still isn't working right, it's too expensive to put a cover over the pool for the winter, some trees need to come down because somebody planted them to close to foundations, and it may take up to two weeks to fix a water leak from a roof although it's quicker if the water is coming up through the floor. The good news was that our monthly assessment is not going to increase and the budget is finally in the black.
And so to bed, safe in the knowledge that our little community will survive for another year without our help!