A homeowner just called to ask why there’s a note on her car that says she’s parked illegally. I explained that the note was left because she was parked illegally, to which she responded, “So how do you decide who you’re going to discriminate against?”
“Well,” I said, “The president of your HOA puts those notices on any vehicle parked in a manner which violates your community’s deed restrictions.”
“So how does he decide who he’s going to discriminate against?”
I found this amusing, because last week, another resident from the same community called to accuse the HOA Board of Directors of discrimination. In this case, the homeowner had painted his deck electric blue, and then submitted a Home Improvement Request for permission to paint his deck electric blue. Since the work was completed before the request was made, the Board denied it and told him he had to return the deck to its original color.
“They are discriminating against me,” he yelled, as I finished up an online crossword puzzle and made noncommittal noises into the phone every thirty seconds. “We’ll just see what my lawyer has to say about this discrimination.”
Previous to these blatant disregards of civil liberties, I moderated a hearing between a Board of Directors and two terribly put-upon homeowners, who had been cited for brewing beer in the shared drive of their community. According to the homeowners, all they were trying to do was foster a neighborly atmosphere by boiling several gallons of water in what amounted to a turkey fryer on a tripod a few feet from where klutzy young children wobbled around on untrustworthy ten-speeds.
“You don’t see this as a potentially dangerous activity?” one of the Board members asked.
“Of course it’s not dangerous,” said one of the homeowners. “You’re just discriminating against us.”
“Okay, you do know that no one is actually discriminating against you, right?” asked another Board member.
“Maybe you’re not,” the other homeowner conceded, “but it feels like you are.”
And that right there sums the whole thing up for me. These people are so entitled and self-centered that asking them to adhere to the rules, the same rules they agreed to follow when they closed on their fucking houses, is considered an act of persecution. I am loathe to repeat myself, but it’s like working at that health food store during the gluten-free fad all over again:
Customers with legitimate gluten allergies and/or intolerances — “Wait, all of these items are gluten-free? This means a different breakfast, lunch and dinner every day for a week. Do you know how amazing that is?”
Customers/sheeple who have eaten bread their entire lives but then read an article about how Gwyneth Paltrow only lets her children breath gluten-free air — “Ugh. Are these the only gluten-free products you offer? You don’t have anything here. What, do you want me to starve? This store sucks.”
But you know what bothers me most about these cries of indulgent oppression? These first-world, first-class irriations that our homeowners interpret as unrepentant attacks on their personal freedom?
It’s how familiar they are.
For any number of years, I was unwilling to take even the slightest bit of responsibility for my actions (especially the self-destructive ones). If I got into trouble or caused problems or alienated friends, it was only because they were demanding, snobby douchebags, whereas I was a maligned and misunderstood anti-hero who would probably be played by Ron Perlman when the story of my life was inevitably made into a feature film and/or primetime drama.
And then, y’know, I quit drinking. And the whole self-proclaimed victimhood thing eventually dissolved, once I accepted that there were quite a few less sociopaths out to get me than I’d originally assumed (although I’m still on the fence about Pat Benatar). Granted, these homeowners will pitch annoying hissy fits and wallow about in newfound martyrdom whenever they don’t get their own way, but then they’ll get over it and go on with their lives. Drunk me would’ve chugged a pint of bourbon in reaction to how unfairly the world was treating him, then chugged another pint once he discovered that chugging the first pint didn’t fix anything.
As much as I hate to admit this, I ultimately can’t look down on anyone who has the same character defects I have, but who navigates them by not applying alcoholism as a life hack. All I can really do is be aware that the Universe is not oppressing me; accept that it’s not my job to explain to anyone else that the Universe is not oppressing them either; and, when a homeowner is screaming at me about discrimination, do my best to mean it when I say, “I understand.”