I genuinely want to believe that the majority of people are genuinely OK, basically bright, possess a reasonable amount of common sense and logic and occasionally apply it, and favor getting along with other folks. That might be the case in some parts of the real world, but living in a retirement compound is about as far away from reality as one should care to comfortably venture. Here are some examples of how reality has slipped from the grasp of a few obdurate characters.
Regardless of where you go, always be mindful of anyone carrying a clipboard – they’re potentially dangerous and often pretentious. Somehow that 11 x 14 clip contraption transforms some people into pompous fools who savor the misperception of their importance. Then again, maybe these folks haven’t altered their demeanor at all; they’re simply being themselves. We initially encountered clipboarders as kids in the form of principals and coaches; having these things handy gave the pretense of importance. I recall a few ill-tempered church people carrying clipboards and often noticed them taking notes and glaring at people. Former clipboard carriers often morph into retirees and reappear as well-intentioned volunteers, but in reality prove to be annoying rules-enforcement minions. They can tell you more than you ever needed or wanted to know about the way “things must be.” They’ll give you a new appreciation for the word authoritarian.
Another venue that routinely sprouts self-serving sorts is the committee. As usual, most of those serving on them are well-intended. Lamentably, a few are searching for indefinable adulthood fulfillment and convincing themselves that serving on a committee, oftentimes the one that causes the most inconvenience for the greatest number of people, is the perfect way to fill their gnawing void.
In theory, offering their service sounds viable, and in the majority of cases this form of assistance proves worthwhile for the individual and the recipients of their deeds. Nonetheless, there are always a deviant few who stray toward the fringe of common sense and logic; a number of them actually topple off the side. These are the ones who often throw the typical serene retirement community lifestyle into a free-for-all by forming clandestine alliances and cliques in order to get their way. They cause friendships to fray, and generally do more harm than good. The fallout from their misguided efforts tend to cause other well-intended compound inhabitants to forego offering their service because they don’t want to create an unnecessary problem, and then become indefinitely adjoined to it.
Here’s a thought: If you’re considering signing up for service as a committee member, remain vigilant about staying true to yourself during your tenure. If you find that you’re often being swayed toward ideas and initiatives that aren’t in keeping with your core beliefs, it may be time to find another outlet for your time and talent. Everyone, especially you, will benefit from your decision.
One final group that’s prevalent in HOAs makes the cut, and that’s bridge players. And yes, I have a lot of bridge-playing friends, but even they admit the game makes some people unnecessarily cantankerous. I walked by a room full of bridge players one day and noticed a snowbird friend I hadn’t seen in over a year so I waved; he made a visibly glaring error and casually waved back. Apparently his hand gesture generated a seemingly inaudible yet unacceptable noise. The rules rube immediately ushered him out of the room and began accosting me for “interrupting.” What?! Help me for a minute and perform this noisy, obnoxious gesture – wave at someone or something right now. How much noise did it make? Exactly. I’ll crawl out on a limb here and guess that nothing in the immediate area of your wave was irrevocably disrupted. If someone’s game-playing concentration can be shattered with a modest hand gesture they probably wouldn’t care for the one I have in mind for them now.
If you’re an addicted clipboard carrier, how about trading it in for a little pocked-sized, voice-activated recorder. That way you can continue taking notes for invaluable future use in ratting out everyone on your “violator’s” list. But you’ll have the added benefit of appearing to be some sort of community secret service agent who’s talking to a clandestine agency. That’s sure to be entertaining for the rest of us, and you’ll still be important (a legend in your own mind and stone cold nuts), but categorically important.