Somehow, I just got wrangled into serving a third term on the board of the Vinyl Village Homeowner’s Association. It’s a thankless job. We get burdened with complaints about barking dogs, questioned about “just what we plan to do about that leaking sprinkler head”, and bombarded with emails filled with financial statements, requests to erect tool sheds, and complaints about stolen flags and Christmas wreaths. But someone must protect our property values, and so here I am.
Trying to get the neighborhood to show any interest in anything is tough. Few aside from the board members show up for neighborhood clean up day. Our annual meetings are generally attended by retirees, newcomers, and people who have been waiting eleven months to blow up at someone over “these damned grass clippings that keep getting tossed over my fence!”. We barely have enough for a vote, ever.
But that all changed when someone shit in the pool.
At the end of one of our cul de sacs sits the jewel of the neighborhood…our Junior Olympic pool and vinyl clad cabana. It really is quite nice, and is a great place to stave off the heat in the summer. Generally, you see the same five or six families using it. And, generally, another five or six families show up just often enough to abuse it. (I mean, really, folks, is the neighborhood poolhouse really the place to bring your clippers and get a hair cut??) Once or twice a season, teenagers will steal the emergency phone from the poolhouse, an unthinkable crime given that it leaves them with no way to order pizza or call their friends to join them. Occasionally, someone will hand out the combination to their friends (or their daycare center…thanks, I really want to swim with 40 toddlers!). But last summer was the worst.
The call went out mid-day. The pool man came by to do his normal maintenance and discovered a turd floating near the steps. The pool had to be closed, $300 worth of chemicals dumped in it to shock away any bacteria, and it would be two days before the pH of the water returned to normal.
A neighborhood notice was put together, and signs placed at the gates. “Make sure young children are wearing swim diapers!”
The pool reopened, and a few days passed. A member of the pool committee opened the pool and discovered another bowel movement that had settled onto the steps.
Another $300 dollars was spent, and another two days passed with the pool closed. The curious timing of the second turd, not present at closing the night before, but there in the morning, prompted us all to believe that there was more to it than a leaky diaper. Effective immediately, the vinyl villagers were required to sign in when they entered the pool. Those under 18 had to have a parent present.
Neighbors got angry. “What are we spending this money for if we can’t use the pool?” “My kids arent the poopers, why should they be punished?”
A meeting was called. Signs went up at the entrances, emails were sent. On the afternoon of the meeting, just hours before we would all convene, the pool man found another floater. The third in two weeks. Again, the pool was closed.
An angry mob of villagers descended on the pools parking lot that night. There were easily more in attendance than had been at all of our previous meetings combined. The President of the HOA explained why we felt that these were intentional acts of vandalism, stressed that it had cost us all nearly $1000 now, and how we all had to work together to stop it.
Most of the folks in attendance felt the new rules were a good step. Others seemed put off by the idea of having to accompany their children at the pool. Someone recommended having the most recent piece of fecal matter DNA tested so the culprit could be found. Another suggested that racoons could be responsible. The president showed the rather large floater to the crowd to dispel that idea.
Voices were raised. People started talking over each other. One particularly obnoxious homeowner interrupted the meeting several times, finally shouting “This is how it should be!”
An elderly gentleman, his prosthetic leg fully visible beneath the hem of his polyester, elastic waisted shorts, jumped up, shaking his cane at the interrupter. “This isn’t a dictatorship! We all get a vote here!”
“You better step back!” the interrupter shouted, and two men from the crowd jumped to seperate the two of them.
“Holy shit…” I thought to myself. “a one legged man was about to beat the shit out of someone a third his age over shit in the pool. I may be among a select few to actually see a one legged man in a butt kickin contest!”
Whoever was responsible, whether it was a teenager who thought it was funny, an abnormal raccoon, or a baby who ate way too much, the third turd was the charm. No more were discovered after that meeting.