A couple of months ago my next-door neighbor called me up. “Will, I have been doing some thinking, and realized last night you would be the perfect person to have on the Board of our HOA… young, smart, full of life… A refreshing new face. Whatdya say?”
“Sure, why not?”
Biggest mistake of my life.
Fast forward two weeks- I show up to my first annual meeting for all members held in the stinky basement of an old Baptist Church across the street. After all, we moved into the neighborhood only a year ago. I should participate, especially if I’m now on the board!
I should also point out my next door neighbor is the HOA President. He, alongside a thin frail older woman, sat behind a plastic table at the front of the room. I took a seat on the far left, unaware of the ridiculousness set to ensue. It was like sitting on the set of an episode of ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ mixed with ‘Golden Girls’.
Strap in folks. This room is about to explode.
7:01 PM- meeting starts. I think it’s important you understand the group of human beings I’m trapped in this basement with: there are about 30 people in the room- two thirds are over the age of 65 (with several well over the age of 70, possibly 80- no joke). A handful of middle-aged men, a woman in her 30′s, and myself. Sitting in the corner.
My neighbor attempts to lead a civil discussion about dues and the such, but the members are having none of it. They are there for vengeance! For blood. To wage a war that would turn neighbors aggressively against each other.
For nearly TWO HOURS these people yelled and bickered.
Frank, an extremely old man up front with a shaking fist and wooden cane, would randomly mumble loud and inappropriate (completely off-topic) comments while other people were talking. He was bitter the board only took bids from 2 repair men instead of 3 during the grueling decision on who to use to repair a tiny statue near a street entrance in 2009. Frank’s life has never been the same since that fateful day, and after 4 years he remembered he was mad about it.
Frank would not shut up… the guy was seriously out of control. (WebMD “Dementia”)
Frank was not the only person with opinions. Oh not at all. Other members were outraged that fuel sur-charges had been increased by our trash service. Just who the hell do these guys think they are to increase the bill .19 cents a month?! One member of the HOA actually took it upon himself to make a large timeline graph mapping fuel costs in the US since 2000. Not sure how that changes anything but thanks for wasting 20 minutes of my life with THAT little gem.
And finally, our dear friends Sandra and Kathy- both of whom could not believe the horrifying decision made last year to provide new trash bins to the members. You see, they don’t believe in accumulating house-hold trash. They would rather the bins not exist because they take up too much room in the garage where their two cats Josie and Felix could otherwise play 0n custom-build scratch posts.
The entire experience was horrifying. My phone continued to buzz with text messages from my wife: “where ARE you?”
My neighbor began yelling for people to stop the madness. Things finally settled down.
8:55 PM- meeting closed.
I ran out of the basement, fled to my car, and drove home.
For the next several weeks, neighbors began emailing spiteful and hate-filled messages to the other members. Old people against even older people. Delirious against demented. My thoughts every time I read a new email were always the same… who CARES!!!
Can’t we all just live on the same street and happily wave hello while walking the dog? Why is this so hard?
It truly makes zero sense.
The icing on the cake came last week when my next-door neighbor resigned as President of our HOA. After recruiting me into leadership, he would pass down the glorious opportunity to tame and rationalize the throng of senior-citizens that non-stop debated about meaningless crap. The classic Bait and Switch.
Well played sir, well played.