Our little neighborhood in Oregon is a magnet for drama. To paraphrase the wonderful Alexander McCall Smith, “When people don’t have enough to do, they turn on their neighbors.”*
This community depends on its owners to run things, which might be ok if we weren’t a bunch of amateurs — some well-meaning; some self-serving. Many are retired executives who haven’t quite grasped that nobody here actually works for them. This leads to micromanagement, incompetence, and finger-pointing. Our motto should be “Once burned, twice shy” because we put a big bullseye on our backs the moment we volunteer. After doing your bit, who needs more aggravation unless you’re a certified martyr or control freak?
The problem is that we’re all part of an extended “family” living in close proximity but connected only by the circumstance of choosing to live in the same neighborhood and, otherwise, having little in common.
Were this a Regency play, the cast of characters might read as follows:
Sir Bluffalot: “Whenever I’m wrong, bullying has always worked for me.”
Mr. Bragalot: (Bluffalot’s illegitimate brother) The self-styled expert on everything, no matter how trivial.
Our Lady of Perpetual Discord: Creates conflict so she can swoop in to solve it, ignoring pesky facts that might contradict her cast-iron assumptions.
Saint Gossipus: Want everyone to know your dire financial situation? Tell Saint G.
Aunt Sweety: A beautiful soul who sees the good in everyone.
Cousin It’sTheirFault: She takes no responsibility for her part in events since it’s much easier to blame others.
Uncle High Dudgeon: No issue is too small to overreact.
Miss Representation: Loyal subject of Saint Gossipus, the truth is a pliable commodity.
The Twins, Pitiful Pearl and Timid Timmy: “Please, someone else, solve my problems for me.”
Lord Blinker: Storms into battle for the woman he loves, armed only with outrage.
Sister Sycophant: “I can’t be bothered to find out anything, so I’ll just mix up a big batch of Kool-Aid and pass out the straws.”
The Moral of the Story: Hire professional management. If that’s impossible, avoid all meetings, curl up with a good book, sleuth out some trustworthy friends, and enjoy a nice glass of wine.
*”If you don’t have things to keep you busy, you end up starting fights with your neighbours.” — The Second-Worst Restaurant in France