Early last week I got a frantic email from one of my neighbors asking me to call him right away. This is a guy that’s been in the condo building for as long as it’s been a condo building. He served as board president for the first four years. Now he serves as sort of a president emeritus position. After about a day of phone tag, we finally connected. His urgent message: he wanted me to become the new board treasurer.
The current treasurer just surprised everyone by announcing his family was moving out. Out of town, actually, way out of town. His is the second family to put their place for sale this summer, and it’s possible there’ll be a third. This kind of large-scale upheaval is unusual for any condo building, and ours espeically. My impression is that normal rate of turnover is about one condo per year. Suddenly, we’ll be going from the building’s freshmen to grizzled veterans, all within a year. A year ago I was terrified at the amount of responsibilty I’d suddenly have to shoulder with ownership. The thought that new first-timers might be turning to me for advice is more terrifying still.
So when I heard the recommendation that I become treasurer, my first thought was “not on your life, mister.” At least, that was the stock answer I had ready for when he asked, because I felt the suggestion was coming. There aren’t many people in the building who’d be likely treasurer candidates, so the chances they’d turn to me seemed high. But when he asked, a wave of guilt came over me and forced my stock answer to shirk into the background, revealing this guy: “Yeah, that sounds fun.” Fun?! What about a volunteer job balancing other people’s books sounds fun? Stressful, sure. Magnet for resentment, absolutely. I’ll even concede lesson in something pratical. But it sure ain’t going to be fun.
The next night we had our semi-whenever board meeting. After the usual business, my neighbor nominated me for the position. “All in favor?” the president asked. A chorus of “aye”s. Then, in my first act as the guy who handles all the money, I said, in a voice louder than decorum would allow, “Sure, hire the Jew.”
In my normal circles, that’s a tolerable line. Offensive, maybe, but self-mockingly offensive, which somehow makes it better. I forgot I didn’t actually know these people that well, so what I got back, instead of chuckles, was a room full of “Did you just say what I thought you just said?” faces. Someone even said exactly that. Sarah, meanwhile, is doubled over in laughter. After composing herself, she calmed everyone down while I just sat there with a shit-eating grin on my face.
Later, Sarah was appointed secretary. I piped up again. “This is great… I’ve always wanted to sleep with my secretary!”
They have no idea what they’ve gotten themselves into.