As we embark on the final countdown towards the holidays, we thought we’d revisit another Christmas classic and adapt it to the condo world. Here’s our last post of the year, our Condo Christmas Story.
The events and characters portrayed in this blog post are a work of fiction. Any resemblance to events or to persons serving or having served on a condo board, is purely coincidental or the product of your imagination.
A Ghost Story of Christmas
‘Twas the night before Christmas. A raging blizzard was battering Condo Land.
Worried about his long trek back home, the Super decided to go knocking on the treasurer’s door to ask if he could leave a little early to join his family. The thought of having to make this request made the Super shiver. He knew that the greedy, selfish, old man hated Christmas almost as much as he loved to make people suffer.
You see, Scrooge (as people called him) was an old, miserly and mean-spirited condo director, who had hogged the treasurer’s position for seven decades. To keep condo fees low, he had consistently delayed needed repairs and had cut down on all services. Earlier this year, he even used the pandemic as an excuse to force the corporation into self-management.
“Bah! Humbug!”, muttered Scrooge as the only answer to the Super’s request. Still, he grudgingly let the Super go home early to conform to social customs. All he asked of him was to turn off the Christmas lights in the lobby on his way out. “Thanks to the provincial lockdown, he said, those dreadful carollers won’t be assembling in the lobby this year!”
Before the Super was done imparting his Christmas wishes, Scrooge slammed his unit door and return to the yearly budget to see whether keeping the gym closed under pandemic pretense would result in savings.
Mid-calculations, Scrooge was startled by a noise behind him. When he turned around, his blood froze!
Standing right in front of him was the ghost of their former property manager! She looked haggard and pallid, doomed to wander from AGM to AGM, entwined by heavy chains, dragging keys, padlocks, ledgers and boxes of proxies forged by Scrooge during a lifetime of rigged elections. She warned him that he’d be visited by three spirits who would give him one last chance to redeem himself and make amends or risk being cursed for ever.
Scrooge collapses into a deep sleep.
Ghost of AGMs Past
As the clock rang 9 times, Scrooge was awaken by his first visitor: the Ghost of AGMs Past.
The spirit advised that he would escort Scrooge on a journey through past AGMs, starting with the one where the curmudgeon was first elected: the turn-over meeting.
It was a joyful time of promises, luxurious amenities and low condo fees. Owners were excited to build a community where all would get along. Many committees were formed and a young bright-eyed Scrooge was first elected. This time of innocence was before the CAO and mandatory training.
As the pair travelled from AGM to AGM, Scrooge saw how tight-fisted, controlling and cold-hearted he increasingly became over the years. With time, he learned to divide and dominate the community with rules, special assessments and abusive liens.
Scrooged was moved to tears when he saw how joyful and peaceful things used to be at the condo.
Ghost of AGMs Present
As the timepiece struck 10 O’Clock, Scrooged found himself in the rented hall where the condo normally held its AGMs, this time with the Ghost of AGMs Present.
They were surrounded by row upon row of empty chairs. Scrooge then remembered (with a great deal of mischievous pride) that he had single handedly managed to indefinitely postpone this year’s AGM under the disingenuous claim that this measure was required in these pandemic times to prevent COVID-19 community transmission.
You see, this year’s AGM was expected to be quite contentious as owners had requisitioned a vote on the “No-Pet Rule” Scrooge was trying to pass. Pets had never been a problem at the corporation but Scrooge wanted to get rid of CocoPop, the old dog at unit 306. CocoPop was loved by all, which is exactly why Scrooge wanted to get rid of that “purebred mutt”.
Normally, Scrooge would have been able to survive the vote of non-confidence, using paper proxies from absentee owners and snowbirds but that old trick was certain to fail now that owners were demanding a virtual meeting with electronic voting ballots.
Before leaving the room, the ghost showed the old man two meggered, ragged, emaciated kids. Scrooge was surprised to see them there as the governing by-law prevented kids from attending AGMs. The first kid was called Governance and the second one, Oppression. The ghost told Scrooge to beware of the first one as he often dragged the second with him.
Ghost of AGMs Yet To Come
The clock struck 11 times. Scrooge found himself beside the Ghost of AGMs Yet To Come. This phantom was shrouded in a deep black garment, with his face concealed with a dark non-medical face mask. They both stood in the condo’s party room. Scrooge’s neighbours were in attendance, sanding in silence.
Scrooge realized that they were at someone’s wake. He noticed that none of his neighbours looked sad. All were waiting to be allowed to the overflowing desert table, lavishly set out in the corner. “Did the condo pay for that?”, Scrooge asked. The ghost answered that this was the only way to convince anyone to attend the service as they all hated the person who had passed.
“But who died?”, Scrooge inquired, “How could this person be hated by everyone?”
The ghost brought Scrooge to the urn to show him the deceased’s name. Before looking at it, Scrooge asked the ghost whether what he was seeing around him were things that would be or whether they were shadows of things that may be. The ghost told him that, as with the provincial pandemic restrictions, what a single person did every day could change the course of the future and make it happier for everyone.
Scrooge crept towards the urn, trembling, only to discover in horror that his own name appeared on it. “No, Spirit! Oh No!”, he cried. “I can change!”
Scrooge woke up in the condo’s boardroom. It was shortly before midnight and still snowing outside.
He quickly went to the dark and empty lobby and lit the Christmas tree. There, he saw on the bulletin board that some owners were planning a virtual holiday cheer on Zoom. He looked at his watch. There was still time. He ran to his unit and booted his computer.
When his neighbours saw that Scrooge was attempting to connect, they feared the worst, wondering what obscure condo rule they were breaching. But instead, to their amazement, they saw a smiling Scrooge, with a Santa hat on and the jolliest virtual background, with reindeers, bells and happy elves. He raised a glass of eggnog and started to sing a joyful Christmas hymn. After a moment of hesitation and silence, all of his neighbours joined in!
From then on Scrooge treated everyone with kindness, generosity and compassion, embodying the condominium spirit.
Our thanks and best wishes
Well, we made it folks! Together, we’ve pulled through an incredibly challenging year! Directors, managers, owners and even us, lawyers, had to scramble to learn new ways of doing things and new ways of caring for one another.
Through it all, we, at the Condo Adviser, published 83 blog posts and broadcasted 20 webinars! We are blown away with the more than 415, 000 pageviews this year! We can’t thank you enough for your readership, trust and support!
Celebrations may feel different this year and you may not have everyone around the table, but let us push through this together. As the Ghost of AGMs Yet To Come said, today’s sacrifices and physical distancing will ensure that we have more people to hug next Christmas.
As we sign off for the year, from our families to yours, our very best wishes for the season!
Merry Christmas, dear friends!