Thursday, October 06, 2005

Both Barrels

With my apologies to Reginald Martinez Jackson I know I'm not the straw that stirs the drink in our condo association. While you good folks are getting my point of view in this blog, I want to make crystal clear that this is very much a team effort.

This team effort also extends to the maintenance of our building.

As I've mentioned, we simply don't have enough money to pay anyone to cut our grass and clean our hallways like we did in the past. Frankly, I considered it throwing money out the window as we have able bodied, healthy people in our association. Trust me, I don't like carving time out to cut the grass but it's got to be done.

Our choices are either pay someone to do the maintenance and raise assessments or get off our asses and do it ourselves. We opted for the later.

So starting in May, I asked for volunteers and came up with a maintenance schedule for the summer. To date, our association has saved approximately $2,700 by not having to pay our former maintenance guy.

That ain't chump change.

Nonetheless, people being people you know there were going to be a few bumps in the road. First off, not everyone participates which means 8 unit owners do the work that benefits all 18 unit owners. That's a fact that I'm sure isn't lost on any of the owners who actually do the work. Secondly, people will start to slack off. I'm not talking "Oops, I missed that cobweb in the corner" but rather I'll just blow off my week because I forgot.

Mind you, when I solicit volunteers I ask if there are any scheduling conflicts, vacations---any of that jazz that I should take into consideration. I rarely get any response. The silence is deafening.

I figure that we're all adults and we can adjust our schedules according to accommodate a bi-weekly indoor and outdoor maintenance schedule.

No such luck.

The straw that broke the camel's back came this week when one of my neighbors attempted to dress me down about the hallways not being cleaned. All the shit that people have said individually and collectively have been saying to me just exploded in the form of an e-mail yesterday.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our ongoing effort to save money by doing our own maintenance has largely been a success.

The downside is that I seem to have become the single source of everything maintenance regarding our building. While I don't mind serving as a liaison in terms of the schedule, the hand holding I have been doing officially stops now.

When I become the person that hears the complaints, sends the reminders, checks the supplies and does the schedule; that's a little bit too much. Effective immediately I will no longer issue reminders to individuals about their maintenance commitments. Nor will I remind people to replenish what they use up whether it's gas for the lawn mower or paper towels to clean the glass.

More importantly, I practically begged for feedback prior to and after the fall maintenance schedule was released. I asked if anyone had any problems with the weeks that they were scheduled and if so to get back to me ASAP. Naturally when I didn't hear back from anyone, I assume that all was well. Unfortunately this did not turn out to be the case.

Our indoor maintenance which is only being done every other week to begin with, now has to be delayed another week because the person on the rotation this week is out of town and didn't find a replacement. To add further insult, I'm the person who gets hit with 1,000 questions when the indoor maintenance hasn't been done or why the grass gets too long.

It is not my responsibility to make sure that adults honor the commitments that they make or at least find a workaround when there is a conflict. In the future, if anyone has a question about why something wasn't done or wasn't done to their satisfaction, they need to personally take it up with the individual listed on the maintenance schedule.

Lastly, I am not the person you go to at the last minute concerned that you need someone to take your bi-weekly maintenance shift. With rare exception, everyone who is participating has their e-mail address listed above. Cut and paste it in your address book or exchange phone numbers so you can have a back up in case of a conflict.

Right now we are continuing the fight for our financial lives. The money that we save will help us continue to pay our association bills in a timely fashion and save money. It’s frustrating enough that little under half of the unit owners do all of the maintenance work to everyone's benefit. I know people are getting burned out but if the maintenance schedule doesn't continue to work at least through 2006 one of three things will happen:

Our lawn and building will look like our neighbor's buildings down the street.
We will hire someone to come in and maintain our building
That action will push our regular assessments higher

We all have a choice.

That wasn’t the most subtle way of getting my point across but it unfortunately had to be said. Everyone had to be reminded that if one person shirks on their word, then what’s to stop the others from doing the same. Next thing you know our lawn and hallways will look like ass.

I may live on the south side but I refuse to live in a ghetto.

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