Throwing in the Towel

This post has next to nothing to do about writing. It’s only link as it is part writing exercise and part getting my thoughts clear in my own head. A really great day ended with an extremely frustrating condo association meeting. So this morning (even though a power outage took out our alarm clock), I am doing my writing exercise to exorcise the demons from the night before. So to speak. Nobody spoke in tongues or anything.\

I have heard a number of times the saying:

It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.

Most often attributed to Mark Twain (though confirmation is sketchy at best), it is an excellent saying. It reminds us that the little guy doesn’t always have to lose. Not that I would ever accuse myself of being a “little guy.” (That was a physical size joke, not a social status one.)

Last night our condo association met to discuss an issue. It was a storage issue in the townhouse style condos (as opposed to the apartment style, or garden style homes). We were sold on one of the features being a semi-private garage where we could put up shelves for garage items. It seems this is not in our declaration. Or the declaration was changed before our board took over (we bought before the units were sold out and the association was handed over to us).

With the rules in the declaration for the one set of units (such as a 30 pound weight limit on dogs that we never had in the townhouses), now it is a matter of getting 67% of the owners to vote in favor of something to change it. Last night not even 67% of the owners bothered voting either way. That left the townhouse owners (at least those of us at the meeting) feeling under-represented and put upon by the garden style units. We have to follow their rules without their advantages (like not paying for water, having built-in water softeners into their system, etc.).

The problem I was hit with? Well there were two. One was the defense against changing the declaration to reflect what we were sold on was, “Well, it’s in the declaration.” We can’t change the rule, because its a rule. Though that is honestly the after effects of the insanity of it all. Maybe it is naive to things should make sense, especially things we have control over. Maybe its the side effect of being a writer, where everything we put to paper needs to make sense.

The larger of the two issues is the attitude I was met with. Board members rolling their eyes when I talk. Telling me options and directions we can go towards the end, and then never responding back to me. Or better, responding with the instructions that you will not speak to me without another board member or the management company there. That tells me there is not only a lack of respect, but that there is an active effort to quiet our side of the debate. Call me cynical, but it speaks to me that they don’t trust the other board member to shut me down. So they wish to be there to do the shutting down for him.

So their general idea is that I am out of line. I’ve faced the rolling eyes and the scoffs before. Granted it has been a long time since anyone has been so rude to my face, but I remember how to deal with it. And at this point the question is raised of if this is even a fight worth pursuing. 40 hour a week job. Reading and reviewing 1-2 novels a week. Writing my own stories. Odyssey Con. Festa Italia. Is it worth my time to create a presentation on the issue and go door to door an convince the resident owners to vote for it?

Part of me says yes. The declaration has to be changed anyhow. Currently it doesn’t allow us to keep our garbage cans in the garage. City law states we can’t keep them outside on the curb. It also states we can’t have welcome mats on the front door for people to wipe their feet on – because they don’t want them in the hallway of the apartment style homes. If it has to be changed anyhow, there would be no cost difference to add the language for our “semi-private garages.” But that would be less time for everything else I have going on in my already busy life.

I am feeling like I am done with this. Done with them. They aren’t my neighbors, they are the opposition. I will not give respect to those who openly disrespect me. And if the others in the townhouses who are affected more by this reversal are ready to throw in the towel, I’m not going to drag them through this any more even if I feel it is the right thing to do.

At the same time, I will be expressing myself in any and all ways allowed in their precious declaration. Things I have held off on in an effort to not “scare the norms.” I have a garden in front of my unit that is mine to do with as I please. It has been far too long that I have held off decorating or planting in it. And I have known for 4 years what is needed in that space.

zombie-garden-sculptureI may not be able to have Neil Gaiman’s gazebo, but I can have a feature I have heard is kept near his gazebo. The garden zombie will be mine. Oh yes, it will.

Oh, and maybe an upside-down hanging tomato plant. We’ll see.

I will leave you with a final thought though. Consider the confrontations we face every day. From the smallest disagreement to the largest blow-out. Take a moment to consider how different these conflicts would be if we all took a moment to reflect on how what we said appeared to the others involved. Common courtesy seems to be something of the past, something we have gotten away from. At the same time, I think it is something that could cure a lot of these little ills that bother us. There is far to much big shit hitting us from all sides these days to spend so much time and energy on things that could be cured with common courtesy.

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