A couple of month ago, I received an email from a fellow homeowner’s association board member informing me we would be holding a community-wide meeting on October 16. And, as he had in years past, he would be moderating.
Although I didn’t really care about the meeting or who moderated (Ok, so I’m a bad HOA president), being told instead of asked got my dander up.
In a pointed email (I am much better at being pointed in an email than I am in person), I informed him that as president, I would be moderating the community meeting, but he was free to share a committee report if he would like.
Then I spent two months dreading the evening and wondering why I didn’t just keep my mouth shut and let him run the thing.
Last night was the big night. Thirty or so residents attended, maybe six of us under the age of seventy. They stood around with their walkers and hearing aids, drinking cider and gossiping about who had died since the last meeting.
(Have I ever mentioned that I live in an unofficial retirement community? There are a few younger people here, but the majority of folks are senior citizens. I don’t really mind. I’d rather be surrounded by seniors than kids.)
The meeting was also a celebration of a gentleman who has acted as the community’s unofficial facility manager for years but had to stop when he broke his hip last winter.
The would-be moderator honored him by saying that he “knows more about what goes on underground at our community than the rest of us combined.”
Quite a compliment.
Mr. Facility Manager is a character. He once told me that he used to go out and drive around the community at 3 o’clock in the morning to see who was doing laundry.
I’m not sure why it was important to know who was doing laundry at 3 am, but he seemed very proud of his initiative.
We had a cake for him and, because I was the only person there who could take pictures on my phone and then actually get them off the phone (I had to explain to at least three people how I got the photos off my iPhone… “You can email them? Right from you telephone?) I was charged with taking his picture with his cake.
But posing with the cake wasn’t enough. He wanted a picture with “the ladies.” So a bunch of little old ladies surrounded him. He was so busy making eyes at them that I couldn’t get him to look at the camera. Every single picture has him staring at a different woman.
After the photo shoot, he asked me, “Can I give you a hug or will you pop?”
I don’t want to know what he meant by that.
The meeting itself was running smoothly and quickly, just the way I like meetings to go, when Mr. Facility Manager interrupted.
He wanted to sit up front with the rest of the board members and no one had the heart to say no. I was just asking the garden committee chair to give her report when he spoke up.
“Before we move on I have a question. We have a bet going on in my house about how many cups of tea a headmaster’s wife pours in a lifetime. “
He pointed to one of the community member who, I assume, was indeed a headmaster’s wife. “Ellen, could you tell us and settle the bet?”
Ellen, and the rest of the room, chuckled uncomfortably and waited for him to say, “Just kidding.”
But instead he sat waiting for his answer until Ellen responded, “a lot” and I was able to get the meeting back on track.
It’s sad when a vital, hardworking man turns old.
Even though it sounded like odd praise, he really did know all about the inner workings of our community and made sure it ran smoothly. Now he’s shuffling along with a walker and counting cups of tea.
He seemed thrilled with the praise and cake last night, not to mention all the ladies. It made me happy I fought to moderate the meeting after all, so I could play a part in giving him some joy.
Not happy enough to pop, but still happy.