Friday, April 16, 2004

Kiss the Baby

Surely you’ve felt it – that initially nearly imperceptible sensation that change is about to occur.
It begins with a curious sort of nagging feeling, then quickly builds to a certainty that something is imminently, poised on the brink of almost, actually, nearly happening. Sunlight has an entirely different quality, food genuinely tastes different – the air seems charged with a tingling, electric sort of energy. And then you remember: an election is at hand; the game is afoot – we’re all heading into the unknown with neither compass nor map.
The condo corporation is about to vote in a new board of directors.
Anyone who laughs and then quickly googles to check for updates on the ‘will-he, won’t-he, when’ll-he’ nature of the next national Canadian election, or goes to to read the latest surrounding the approaching Bush-Kerry dust-up, adjudging those elections to be 'real', has obviously never lived in a condominium. This is no joke - the politics are quick, cruel and cut-throat; the players comprise an ill-assorted crew of seasoned pros and brash, edgy newcomers, emboldened by the smell of blood in the water, as board memberships come up for renewal.
It can get ugly – fast.
Here at YCC#72 (evocative eh? Some people put down roots in condo communities with lyrical names like ‘Hilltop Manor’, or ‘Chelsea Gardens’ or ‘Rosedale Estates’; we sound more like the flight schedule between Calgary and Winnipeg…) the action is ramping up as we hurtle toward the next Annual General Meeting in June.
Like boxers who’ve just entered the ring, still silk-robed and be-toweled before the big match, there’s a certain amount of fancy footwork and air-punching and even a little feinting amongst the contenders, more a show of bravado at this point than an indication of the action to come.
For aficionados of the sport, this is the time bets are placed and seemingly sweet little old ladies are weighed against pushy, ego-tripping first time buyers who have yet to grasp the true measure of their opponents; overconfidence can be as dangerous at this point as neglecting to hold the elevator for potential voters. Handicapping takes all this into account – but there are always surprises and often complete reversals, as the race for the volunteer, 3 year limit positions moves from friendly aw-shucksing, to focused, no fooling around, straight out, take no prisoners ‘winners are people who do things losers won’t’ campaigning.
The first overt move is generally a page or two of self-serving puffery shoved under the doors of other non-competing owners. (You don’t waste a moment or a sheet of 8 by 11 on opponents or renters. Buncha losers.) It’s here the contestants set out their platform, and the innocent wheat is quickly separated from the cynical chaff as solid experience dictates appropriate content. Forget your love for the building, your commitment to the neighbourhood, or even your record of volunteering for the blind, the deaf, or helpless little kittens. Modern day condo board elections are won or lost on the up-to-the-minuteness of your corporate buzzword cliché vocabulary, and the strength of your language surrounding the sacrosancticity of the reserve fund.
As the weeks go by, interested observers can begin to detect which way the wind is blowing - who amongst the old-timers and former board members (as august and self-reverential a group as ever you’ll meet; I hear some of them hold secret star chamber parallel meetings off-site – if you don’t believe me, just cast your mind back to the pink vs. orange impatiens debate of 2002… has anyone actually seen Mrs. Ford since?) are supporting who. Laundry room conversations dry up the minute strangers enter with a bag of whites and a fistful of loonies – if you don’t know which way they’re voting, you can’t afford to guess: the proxy issue is fast approaching and ever since the United States Presidency was turned upside down over the issue of dangling chads, veteran campaign managers have made the collection of out of town and disinterested owner’s proxy votes the foundation of their strategy, and the measuring stick by which they select either foreign or domestic champagne.
But it’s just April now and entire days still go by when the issue of who will lead us through the next three years is no more irritating than a buzzing fly banging up against a window. But you know how that goes: in short order, the noise will drive you insane – you’ll do anything to silence it. Chasing it around with flyswatters and rolled up magazines; stopping and holding your breath to listen for the faint sound before you leap athletically over the couch and squash it triumphantly into unrecognizable bluebottle goo. That fly won’t be bothering you or anyone else anymore with its incessant, annoying, endless buzzing.
Which reminds me – whatever did happen to Mrs. Ford?

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