Save a Dime; Spend a Dollar

A family friend recently heard about my quest for day jobs, and asked me to vote by proxy for him at his Condo’s HOA Annual Meeting, where they were electing people to their Board of Directors. I’m not gonna lie, I thought this was going to be beyond boring. I was wrong.

When I got there, I was immediately greeted by the secretary of the board, a raspy voiced elderly woman, who sat me down at a table with a couple of owners and the new property manager (also an owner). She hooked me up with a glass of Chardonnay, and was then on her way. As I began to canvas the joint, I took note that it appeared to be a friendly, middle-class group of primarily elderly people, with a fair amount of younger families in the mix.

Not living on the property, and not really having anything to do with anything, I figured I’d just drink my glass, listen to what the nominees had to say, vote for the most qualified, and peace out. However, once they got into the portion of the agenda on new business, I found myself getting sucked in. Admittedly, having never been a homeowner myself, I thought the items of business would pretty much be: Paint this, plant that, yadda. However, as I listened, I realized their very lives and liberties were, in part, dependent upon their abilities to play nice.

The last time I’d been in a meeting run by parliamentary procedure was in my high school youth group. To be honest, these folks treated each other with about as much respect as my former high school brethren. Emotions exploded, interruptions ran rampant, and under the breath gossip seemed to be an every table occurrence.

What were they so pissed about anyways? Well, the fine folks on the Board of Directors get the honor of figuring out how to spend the hard-earned dollar of all of the other owners. Directly as it relates to their home. Apparently, a half million dollars had been sunk into a parking lot, and they’d decided to roll a big landscaping project into that, without really telling anyone. In the meanwhile, the security cameras they’d installed (to combat ongoing break-ins) were the wrong cameras (they’d picked indoor, rather than outdoor ones), they had been installed completely wrong, and were completely useless. To add insult to injury, someone had come in and poured motor oil over all the fancy new plants, killing them. There were suspicions as to who did it, and lots of money is now being spent on legal fees to go after the person, but sans security cams, no one will ever know for sure.

The issue was brought up that money needed to be spent to fix the security cameras, as well as the non-functioning security gate (to restrict entry to the property without a code). The property manager made the assertion to the group that fixing the security cameras was a waste of money, as they wouldn’t be able to convict anyone based off of them. Well, as a former prosecutor, I just had to know why she felt that way. When I asked, she stated that “they would be inadmissible in a court of law”. Bull shit. They’re used by department stores to convict shoplifters every day. For starters.

The homeowners have NO CHOICE but to trust the Board to wisely spend their hard-earned money, and all they got was a parking lot, a bunch of dead plants, and a cheap ass security camera that couldn’t even capture the plant killing culprit. I’d be pissed too. I heard an elderly woman whisper: “Save a dime; spend a dollar”. She’s exactly right. That’s what these folks are doing. Now, the Board says they can’t put money into fixing the lame cameras, because they’ll be paying for the parking lot and dead plants for the next five years.

It’s a common theme, when you think about it: Our society tends to place a higher value on form than function. Logically, protecting yourself from harm should be worth more than looking good, shouldn’t it? But, it seems we’d rather spend money on plants and pavement than protection. I think it reflects a short-sightedness in our thinking. It’s like a chess game. It doesn’t matter how sexy the move seems now, if two plays down the road it puts you in check mate. I saw this theory in action when living in Miami – women would rather have a tan now, and wrinkly/leathery skin later; rather than wear sunscreen now, and have taut/glowing skin later. The problem is, just like the security cameras would prevent crime, sunscreen does more than prevent wrinkles – it prevents disease, costly surgeries, and premature death.

When I left the meeting, I went to a friend’s show at a venue in Deep Ellum. I found myself engaged in a near identical discussion, on a completely different topic: Women’s desires to dress fancy, wear makeup, and have surgically enhanced age-defying perky tits, all in an effort to continuously be found desirable (to the exclusion of other women) by their mate.

It doesn’t matter what I do. As long as I’m alive, I will keep getting older. Other women will be younger. And prettier. And outwardly more desirable. This is going to happen regardless of whether I go into debt on wardrobing, spend hours a day on my face and hair, or risk life and limb to go under the scalpel. Not to say that there isn’t a place for plastic surgery – of course there is. Also, there’s obviously an amount of time, money and effort spent on taking pride in  your personal appearance, such as exercising, hygiene and grooming that is healthy. But, like everything, it’s just about finding that balance in everything we do.

Too frequently, the things I do now, in the name of short-term outward beauty, will cost me greatly down the road. I guess it’s like the old saying goes: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. – Henry de Bracton


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