Not one to rest on my laurels I was all over another opportunity that presented itself to me later in the day. I volunteer at a non-profit that takes people’s used cars as donations and then sells the, usually very crapped out, cars to a dealer for cash. I was working the phones for them when a call came in from a woman who wanted to donate her recently deceased father-in-law’s car. She sounded very embarrassed about the condition of the vehicle and I assured her we had gotten cars donated that a good junk yard would have turned away. Her problem was they were about to put her father-in-law’s house on the market and they needed the car out of the driveway as soon as possible.
“The car can’t be that bad,” I said.
“Oh, trust me it is,” the woman replied, “It’s a 1975 rusted out, dented, moldy AMC Pacer with the roof caving in. Oh and raccoons got into a couple of years ago and shredded most of the interior.”
I hope right now you’re thinking what I was thinking because I was thinking – I’ve got to get my hands on that car. She had me at AMC Pacer.
“That does sound bad,” I said, “But we still would love the donation.”
“Well, there’s one more things. The Pacer has one of those tin can travel trailers attached to it. The trailer is in worst shape than the Pacer. It even has a couple of bullet holes in it,”
I gasped in delight, but the woman thought I was gasping about the violence of bullet holes so she quickly said, ‘Oh no, it’s not what you think. The bullet holes are from a hunting trip when a bunch of men got drunk and used the trailer for target practice.”
I’m thinking to myself, “Awesome!” But I say to her in a voice of sweet innocence, “It’s okay. I was just taken aback for a minute.”
In a very relieved tone she says, “I was worried you were going to back out and you still might because the problem is you have to take both the car and the trailer. You see the tow hitch on the back of the Pacer is so rusted out we can’t get the trailer off.”
“Oh no worries, no worries at all – we’ll take both,” I say as I’m rubbing my hands together in unfettered joy. Let me ask you something – can your still drive the Pacer?”
“Well, here’s the deal our parking area where we store the cars before the dealer we sell them to comes and hauls them away is full right now. But, if you could manage to drive the car and the trailer to my house I could store it for you and then when there’s room in our lot we can move it there.”
“Oh Bless you! You’re an angel. I’ll get with my husband as soon as I hang up the phone and see about moving the car today.”
I gave her Barbara Gray’s address and told her to make sure to pull the car and the trailer into the driveway as far as it will go. I also told her I was going to be gone all day so she just needed to leave the key to the Pacer in the front seat of the car since I was pretty sure no one was going to steal it.
By 3:30 that afternoon Barbara had not only six pot plants in her front yard, but the world’s most disgusting AMC Pacer that was being upstaged by a vintage trailer that probably housed meth chefs in a former life, decorated with bullet holes. I did exactly what you would have done. I took pictures, lots of them. Then I called the HOA and requested an emergency meeting.
The Devil’s Minor League – The HOA
Our HOA board is composed mostly of retired people in very bad moods with control freak tendencies boarding on the psychotic which is why Barbara, as the recording secretary, fits in so nicely. I think because they’re bored they fill up the days by ensuring their suburban enclave meets their level of perfection. These folks also love, love, love meetings. To request an emergency one, I have no doubt, gives them a non-viagra aided climax. My meeting request was quickly approved and scheduled for 10 a.m. the next day. I suggested we all meet in Barbara’s yard and added that it wouldn’t be awkward because I knew she would be out-of-town.
As befitting such an important and solemn occasion as an emergency HOA meeting in a neighbor’s manure laden lawn I showed up the next morning dressed in my burb finest – jeans, a T.J. Maxx cashmere twin set with pearls and my hair in a headband. I looked like Hillary Clinton, circa 1992. I carried a basked of mini muffins that I passed around and I also had handouts. Nothing says I’m a serious person who once worked at an important job a decade ago as color handouts. My handouts, in extra-large type, thank you very much, for the mature set, listed the HOA “crimes” Barbara had committed including, but not limited to; use of unapproved lawn fertilizer resulting in endangerment of the health of other homeowners, possible growing of illegal vegetation, violation of the parking rules and having a vehicle or lawn ornament that reflects negatively on the beauty of the neighborhood. I also noted as a HOA board member she should know better.
The board, 4 retired dudes, 2 ladies who lunch and also do hard time as members of the Garden Club and my friend Kelly (Board treasurer. She very nicely left work so she could be there for me. ) were “aghast,” “taken aback” and “saddened” by Barbara’s “egregious” and “blatant disrespect of the covenants of the HOA.” Kelly was getting me off my game a little bit because she was trying not to laugh and the effort was making her entire body shake. I couldn’t make eye contact with her for fear I would start howling. To try to regain my composure I proposed a moment of silence where we could all reflect or pray, depending on your religious affiliation or lack thereof, for Barbara’s soul. One gentleman requested we form a pray circle and hold hands. That pushed Kelly right over the edge. She got the hiccups from excessive laughter suppression and had to excuse herself to go and get a drink of water. I told everyone the manure smell was most likely causing a partial larynx paralysis.
After the moment of silence the HOA board president opened the meeting up for discussion. I thought the two garden club groupies would try to have Barbara’s back and might defend her. I was wrong – kind of – they did have her back, but it was to stick a knife in it. They also aimed for her jugular by making a motion for the HOA Death Penalty – Ineligible to participate in Yard of the Month for two years! They had a quorum and took a vote. It was unanimous – The Death Penalty wins! The Death Penalty Wins! One of the woman wanted to call Barbara and inform her immediately of their decision. No, no and no, this can’t happen. I don’t want her rushing home. I need a couple of days for my damn seeds to germinate and those pot plants to take root. This is when being prepared and forcing yourself to read 13 pages of HOA rules pays off big.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” I said, “According to the covenant you have to send the rule violations in writing via registered mail. It would be a flagrant violation of our own policy and might render the charges against Barbara null and void.”
They all agreed and the meeting was adjourned with the president vowing to get the letter written and mailed today. I waited until everyone left, checked on the pot plants, gave them a little water and then did a happy dance.
But, wait there’s more – click your way over to the finale!