Thursday, December 13, 2012

Tempest in a Teapot

Hi. Sorry I've been so quiet. I am hip deep in a work project that has left me no time for anything extra. I've taken to knitting in the car at stop lights so that I can Christmas gifts finished.

But that's not what I'm here to talk about today.

As I've mentioned before, our fancy suburban neighborhood has a Yahoo listserv group to keep everyone informed of important events, like how to contact someone who wants to sell a wine cooler. Most of the time, the e-mails are harmless and boring - garage sales, lost dogs, found dogs, found keys, and the like.

Then every once in a while, the vigilantes show up. These folks live for taking pictures of speeding cars and then posting them on the listserv asking if anyone knows who the car belongs to. This, of course, triggers a cascade of e-mails that fall into two groups. First are the "me too!" emails. We get a chorus of people reporting that they saw the very same car doing the very same thing the very same day. Then there are "String them up by their toenails" e-mails. These folks want justice. They want someone, preferably a punk teenager, punished. They want to call the sheriff to patrol our neighborhood 24/7.

These e-mail chains don't last very long, mostly because something else comes along to spark outrage. Last week the listserv blew up with e-mails about our annual HOA dues. The bill had come, and people were shocked, SHOCKED to find that the full dues amount needs to be paid by January 15. Nevermind that's what the HOA contract we all signed when we all bought houses here specifies.

In the past, the HOA has allowed quarterly or monthly payments. But this year they want to save money by sending fewer bills and to have more money on hand in the spring when it's time for lots of landscaping maintenance.

But a nice, reasonable answer from the poor girl at the HOA office wasn't enough. There were multiple e-mails complaining that they didn't get notice of the change, dozens of e-mails saying that no one should have to pay HOA dues because some of the street lights are out and there's a pothole at the entrance. Then there were calls for attorneys and lawsuits against the HOA.

Things took a turn for the strange when one resident suggested picketing the annual HOA board meeting next week. The idea of these middle-class suburbanites marching in circles, holding signs, and chanting because they don't like the bill from the HOA just cracked me up. Forget civil rights! We want to pay our bill in quarterly installments.

I told B the board better be ready. Next thing, residents were going to show up at the meeting with pitchforks, torches, tar and feathers.

At this point, the moderator stepped in said she was shutting the thread down and that everyone was welcome to raise their concerns at the board meeting next week.

We went back to postings about dogs and garage sales  - for about 24 hours.

The new uproar is how ours is the only neighborhood out here without elaborate Christmas decorations at the entrance. "Rawr! We want our Christmas lights!" So now there have been dozens of e-mails all saying "Where are our lights?" and "Who is responsible for this?" Over and over again. And then there are the e-mails that lecture the developers, like they read this listserv, on how not putting up decoration depresses the prices of houses and no one will want to live here and then they won't be able to sell as many houses and then they will go bankrupt. All because we didn't have Christmas lights on the entrance.

Earlier this week, one resident sent an e-mail asking why the heck the inside of the amenity center was filled with decorations but not the front entrance.  A helpful woman said it was all the social committee's fault because they had decorated for the neighborhood holiday party a few weeks ago.

Then came the sniffy, passive-aggressive e-mail from the volunteer head of the social committee. Her feelings were very hurt. She had had approval from the HOA to hire a party planner and decorate. She had told the neighborhood multiple times about the planned party. She had requested volunteers to work the party. And even though 150 families out of 500 showed up, only five people volunteered to help. She was just trying to do something nice to build the community y'all, but it seems like no one is interested. So she's taking her ball and going home.

But the Christmas light controversy has allowed the topic of HOA dues to rear its ugly head again.  There are e-mails, some with all caps, saying "See! This is why we don't like paying our dues! We don't even have Christmas lights!"

As I drove in last night, I noticed someone had flung a balled-up, mass of lights on to the sign at the entrance and plugged them in. I was laughing so hard that I nearly crashed. They may be a mess, but at least we have lights. And I might go out in the dark of night to add to the collection.


donna said...

I'm so glad I don't live in a community with a HOA. Don't these people have something else to do with their time?

Unknown said...


ckh said...


AiringMyLaundry said...

Oh man, if I had to deal with the HOA I'd lose my mind.

F said...

ok, that made me laugh. Woohoo, you moved to a small town! I grew up in a small town. Except you get to pay for the privilege! That no one else wants to pay for! but they want someone to pay for lights! but not themselves!

Somehow if you mix in God with the paying of the dues, then you will really set things on fire! Oh and add some Obamacare. It is all the HOA's fault. Everything is the HOA's fault (along with the social woman).

Please tell me that you added some sort of festive decoration to the entrance?

Ann in NJ said...

I love that "our dues are too expensive" and "we want the HOA to spend more money" are out there at the same time. Except, of course, that making the association between "putting up lights" and "spending money" never gets made in most people's minds.

shrink on the couch said...

Is your neighborhood on the Tea Party's highly recommended list ? Zheesh! Get.A.Life!

Alexandra said...

We have an HOA.

Why I had to turn to the internet for friends.


Susan said...

OMG this is hysterical. I have only lived in 1 place with an HOA and they ostly went after people for leaving their basketball hoops out in plain sight.