Friday, August 25, 2006

The Continuing Story...

My HOA sent me two nastygrams this week. One said, "Weeds have been noted on your property." I looked around for a while and finally found a teeny row of crabgrass (seriously--I should publish a picture--my patio is paved, so weeds are not really an issue) growing directly inside my back gate. Fair enough. The other said, "Items are being stored on your property."

Now, I have a townhouse. It's not like I can have a car on blocks on my front lawn. This one took me a while, and in the end it was only a guess. Because if you call, I've learned from experience, they have NO idea what they meant. (As an ex-employee of a property management company, I'd advise them to invest in a camera--you'll have a record if someone's confused, and you can use it as evidence if you take legal action. Except, of course, that any judge would look at most of the things they complain about and, mindful of the massive check he writes to his own HOA every month, dismiss the case without further ado.)

After twenty minutes of investigation I concluded that they either meant my garbage and recycling containers (stored out of view behind my high wall, just the way 99.9% of the other people in my complex store theirs--everyone but those nuts who keep them in the garage) or a lawn chair on my downstairs patio that I don't often use and which was gathering dust. I threw the lawn chair away, as a sacrifice to the mysterious but demanding HOA gods. Wish me luck.

Meanwhile on Thursday I "weeded" (i.e., threw out the row of crab grass and the lawn chair) and also trimmed back my hedges in the front, and then I wheeled my garbage bin out to the curb. This is an event for me. I can only wheel the garbage to the curb if I'm working from home on Thursday, because if your garbage is out there after "dusk" (the sun doesn't even have to be down) I get a nastygram--a different kind of nastygram that threatens me with a fine. So generally, I don't even bother to put the garbage out when I go to work, because the stress of making sure I'm back before dusk isn't worth it, and as a single person who doesn't cook my garbage doesn't need to go out every week anyway. I was feeling mighty productive when all of this was done by 6:30, but I was really stoked about being able to get the garbage picked up.

Imagine my horror when, after a late meeting and a subsequent leisurely dinner with a glass of wine, I sauntered out to get the mail and discovered that I had forgotten to take my garbage bin back to its hidey hole. Normally I go straight out after I hear the truck, but yesterday I was in a phone meeting, so I didn't want to step away. I know it's my fault, and I know I forgot. But really, this doesn't strike me as reckless behavior that's injuring others in my community (we all forget--a lot--when I went out there were six other wheelie bins at the curb on my way to the mailbox). I'm not implying that the HOA has it out for me--they're nothing if not fair. But it seems like an odd thing to focus on, and it seems like an ureasonable deadline.

Yeah, that's gonna cost me.

And in response to the person who suggested I attend a meeting, let me say that I took you up on your suggestion. I went to a meeting. The other residents who showed up there were crazy--no, really, like "I wear a foil hat to ward off alien mind rays" crazy. I kind of wonder if they were crazy when they moved here. Although I will admit that probably makes the HOA's life difficult, I won't hesitate to point out that I work with plenty of crazy people, too. I just never thought of arbitrarily fining them.

Hmmmmm. Now there's an idea.

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