Thursday, August 13, 2009

Cowardice And Deception

There are some really strange people in this world. I always like to give other people the benefit of the doubt, but sometimes I just have to say -- what on earth...!? I have lived in my place for 11 years. It has always been a friendly, neighborly community. We're sort of like a family, and the people here look out for each other. I have spent a lot of time looking after other folks' cats, feeding them, emptying out poopy litter boxes, watering plants. I have even acted as a rental agent for one neighbor who lived overseas for many years. And it has made me feel safe as well, knowing my neighbors are close by and are looking out for me. Once a year we have a community garage sale, and we clean out all our unwanted items, pool the money and buy pizza. It's fun.

Unfortunately, over the past couple of years there has been a change in many of the residents here, and the feeling of community has gone by the wayside somewhat. We have become a community of strangers. One of the "newbies" has become the high priestess head of the strata coven council, and it has literally gone to her head.

A few weeks ago I had a very pleasant conversation with this woman -- Su-Marie (not Sue-Marie, but Su-Marie, oh goodness...). Anyway, I was landscaping my terrace, and she was admiring a little bird house I have that my daughter gave me for Christmas a few years ago. We are not permitted to feed the birds here -- it is against the coven council by-laws, so it is decorative only, and I explained that to Su-Marie. It was obvious there was no bird seed in it, and no birds feeding from it. She thought it was very pretty, and she said my terrace "looked so nice" it inspired her to landscape hers as well. Su-Marie and I have had several pleasant conversations over the past few weeks, but my internal vibes always detected something strange. Beware of people who smile at you but their eyes stay dead.

Yesterday I received a letter from the Property Management Company as follows:

Your strata lot has been fined $50.00 for the bylaw violation as it relates to the bird feeder. Please issue the cheque payable to "The Owners of Strata Plan VR XXXX" in the amount of the fine and forward to the agent.

It was a three-page letter setting out the bylaws, yada, yada. I was shocked. A $50.00 fine over a decorative bird house? Su-Marie knows my phone number, my e-mail address, and where I live -- she lives on the same floor that I do. All she had to do was say, "Please remove the bird house." Five words. That would have been honest, straightforward and perhaps brave. It is not always easy to do something like that, but usually it works out for the best. And I would have said, "Okay, sure..." and offered her a cup of tea, or maybe a gin and tonic on the terrace. It's no big deal, and certainly nothing to get bent out of shape about.

Well, in any case, I am beginning to hear horror stories of things this witch woman is doing to other people in our building as well, in the form of harassment. What makes people behave that way to their neighbors? It boggles the mind. I see people behaving that way at work as well. Smiling and feigning friendliness, and all the while they're hiding behind their deception and cowardice. At 3:00 in the morning, how do they live with themselves?

I immediately sent a cheque for $50.00 to "the agent" with a brief letter stating that I am very disappointed, and it was not how I would have handled the situation. Maybe they can put the money towards fumigating the smell of cat urine out of the stairway carpets where the upstairs neighbor has let her cat relieve himself.

And you know something? I would rather be on the receiving end of nonsense like Su-Marie pulled, than to be the one dishing it out. When I smile, my eyes aren't dead.


Leslie: said...

Oh Josie! You should have checked the condo bylaws before sending that cheque. I think they're supposed to send you a notice or warning before automatically fining you. Cancel that cheque right away and then check out the fine print on the condo bylaws!!! Don't let her bully you like that!

Jo said...

Leslie, you know what? I don't even care. I know they are supposed to warn me, and when they do, I am supposed to have a hearing... but I just can't be bothered. She is eventually going to be hoisted on her own petard. She is just looking for battles, and I'm not interested in getting into any battles. Too many other people here in the building have been caught up in that. Not me!

PinkPanthress said...

That woman is ugly... ugly from the insides! :/
I don't need to see her to know that!

lovelyprism said...

Ok, I understand the reasoning behind sending the check without the battle, but I hope you stated in your letter that you were denied any warning or hearing and the object in question was purely decorative. That along with the check surely would have pricked somebody's conscience.
What makes people behave that way? Power. I see it here in my town quite a bit. If a small person gains any amount of power they immediately think they are big and powerful, it goes to their head. They're people who have no true power in their own lives so they latch on to it and run with it and take their frustration out on others. I would venture to guess your coven mistress is a very unhappy person.

Brenda said...

Wow...I wonder how she handles REAL issues. Life is full of things she could worry about. Why choose a birdhouse.

tinkerbell the bipolar faery said...

At least you're not related to her ... and, yes ... pity her.

PurestGreen said...

If she found a way to become head of the council,it is time for a decapitation...

Any way to vote her out? Gather others in the building to rally against her?


Same thing happened to me. I refused to send the $25 penalty; took down my bird feeder, and noticed I could use the palm trees to put my bird seed in - they have nice little 'pockets' on the trunk of the trees.

So, now I just scatter the seed in those pockets; I dump bread crumbs as I walk throughout the complex at 2 in the morning, and avoid getting in trouble with 'the witch' that we also have here to enforce the CC&R's.

I will not stop enjoying my birds; nature, and believe me it's been a 9-year battle that so far, I've managed to win with a little 'resourcefulness' of my own.

I first dealt with CC&R 'rules' back in 1983 in California, so I've got 26 years of 'practice'..........

These people are 'plastic people' - they are robots; they see nothing beautiful in nature, and only refer to 'rules' by which they adhere to as they pat themselves on the back, for being deceitful; uncaring, and truly not worthy of your time.

I hope you wrote your remarks on the face of your check, so it will be forever your 'evidence' of your disdain for those who have no reverence for nature, but who rejoice in creating pain for those who have a spirit that is much more kind; much more evolved, and a heart they will forever be deprived of.

Just be glad you're a good spirit; outsmart the 'enemy' - keep a smile, and never resort to their tactics.

the walking man said...

Seeing as you were being fined anyway you could have placed the check on the bottom bird feeder with some seed in it and actually committed the violation and let the birds peck some holes in the ducat before you sent it. Or better yet gone to a pet store and let them line a cage with it for a few hours.

RE: Canadians and Brits and French and all of the industrialized world should be laughing at the US for the total ignorance this debate over health care has brought out, not offended, when your system is used as mud to fling. Nothing we here do will change the quality of care you receive there.

PhilipH said...

Su-Marie: just listen to her screeching cackle as she zooms past your window on her besom broom. Sweeping through the corridors, squinting through the keyholes, looking for ways to make her day.

Do you feel lucky punk Su? Is this water bucket empty punk? Well, do ya feel lucky??

Swoosh, and the buck is now empty. "Aargghh, I'm melting.. aargghhhh, why did you have to do that?"

So sue me Su....

What a bitch!

ivan said...

People from oppressive, bureaucracy-fidden countries are like that for a while until they become acclimatized. It is common in Communist counties--now even Hong Kong?-- to squeal on your neighbour--extreme political correctness.
Some newcomers are a little slow to learn that we do not always go strictly by the book...But then our politicians and police are delighted to discover new ways of extracting money from us, from traffic violations to by-law "offences". They are enabled by fascist prohibitionist groups like MADD,where you might lose your driver's liceene over having one glass of wine with your dinner.
With politicians, it is getting to be us against them, instead of them working for us. I thik I'd write a letter to your Mayor Campbell. Tell him she is practicing entrapment.

Alissa said...

I used to live in a totalitarian neighborhood like this. It's not all the crazy by-laws (and believe me we had some strange ones) but the manner in which they were enforced, as if we had a by-law against treating our neighbors like human beings. Well, that's one reason I'm glad I no longer live there.

Roy said...

I can really relate to this... you would expect people to come to you and say it upfront... you are after all reachable

Why do others really prefer to go out and make a fuss than go directly to you and straighten things out?

TC said...

I'm torn between tinkerbells comment of pity and forgiveness and the walking mans one about the bottom of a birdcage.

It always amazes me how some people love to make other peoples lives miserable just for the heck of it. Good deal you are keeping an even head about it all.

Patty said...

I think you and the others she is treating so shabby should get together and confront her as a group, so she knows, how many are not happy with her being a neighbor and doing the things she does. Perhaps if she realized you all know about her, she will stop or better yet she would move out.

I can't imagine anyone letting their cat into the hallway to relieve it's self. Does this person not have a litter box. How awful for you and the others.

Sounds like Su needed some cash in a hurry, who else is on the council with her and did you talk to them?

Jean said...

Unfortunately these people do exist in this world. They are control freaks. Everyone has to dance to "their" tune or pay the price. I had a boss like this once. I quit the job. Life is too short. This one was probably acting out of jealousy because your terrace looked better than hers. They justify their actions by telling themselves it's for the good of all. I would bet this woman has few friends and will end up a very lonely old lady.

Hilary said...

Bird houses are not meant to be a source of food for the critters. That would be what the feeders are for. A bird house is only meant to encourage nesting.

Jo said...

PinkPanthress, you're absolutely right. Beauty comes from within, and she doesn't have it.

Lovelyprism, oh yes, she has caused trouble for a lot of people here, and cost the council a lot of money in the process. I wasn't going to let myself be pulled into the fray.

Brenda, I heard that someone "keyed" her car recently. (No... it wasn't me...!) She really p*ssed someone off. She's vile.

Tinkerbell, yes, I am glad I'm not related to her, and right now I don't pity her. Her Karma will get her, though.

PurestGreen, oh, I wish... Unfortunately, she is one of these people who, shall we say, bends the truth, so it's pretty difficult to get rid of her.

Diane, "These people are 'plastic people' - they are robots; they see nothing beautiful in nature, and only refer to 'rules' by which they adhere to as they pat themselves on the back, for being deceitful; uncaring, and truly not worthy of your time." You have hit the nail on the head! She's a real estate agent -- that says it all. :-)

Mark, LOL -- What great ideas! I wish I had thought to do that. *heh*

"Nothing we here do will change the quality of care you receive there." Thank you. I am so tired of hearing what terrible medical care we get in Canada, France and the U.K. It may not be perfect, but it seems to work okay for us.

Philip, Omigawd...! I am going to think of that every time I see her now. "I'm melting! I'm melting!" Gosh, I'm probably going to say to her, "Hello, Su-Marie, where's your broom!>" *heh*

Ivan, ... entrapment! You know, that never occurred to me. That is exactly what she did, the slimy b*tch. That's one of the reasons I paid the fine. I need to distance myself from her. She's looking for a battle -- from everyone.

Alissa, " ... but the manner in which they were enforced, as if we had a by-law against treating our neighbors like human beings." Oh, goodness, yes. That's the part that disgusts me.

Roy, I know! I am completely approachable. There would have been no reason for her not to just say, "That should be taken down." She's a coward! She hid behind the property manager.

TC, yes, sometimes we have to learn to pick our battles. This one was not worth it. I just tried to keep my dignity, and not get pulled into it.

Patty, so far, her bull-headedness has cost the owners in this building thousands of $$dollars in legal fees and fines. People have left because of her. People are sheep, and they won't stand up to her, unforunately.

Jean, you know what? I think you are absolutely right. She was jealous because my terrace looks gorgeous, and hers still looks like crap. *heh*

Hilary, I guess technically it is a bird feeder, in the shape of a little house, but it was just used as a decoration. That's the weird part. She knew that!

Book pusher said...

Such people are so hard to deal with, don't let her spoil things for you. I have never had a bad neighbour before we moved into our current house, but we have one now. I have absolutly no idea what started the trouble, which is actually the most disturbing part, but this person has poisioned every plant in my garden they could reach across the fence, their children constantly throw rubbish in our yard and so many other things I could mention, I have no idea why they behave this way but the only solution so far seems to be to ignore all their provocations, or it escalates. I just think they are rather pathetic people who are so powerless and inadequate they have to behave this way to make themselves feel important, in reality they just look ridiculous and like the sad inadequate bullies they are. Good luck I'm sure you did the right thing, hopefully she will get bored with bothering you and find something else to be petty about.

Katy said...

Just finished reading Meg Cabot's thrid book in her Allie Finkle series: "Best Friends and Drama Queens". Cabot writes about 4th graders, but her characters just as well be adults. Its amazing how situations change as we get older, but some poeple stay very much the same.

DUTA said...

The world is full with sick people like this neighbor of yours.

We have to be very creative and inventive to deal with them.and at the same time keep away from confrontations. One word of warning: don't count on the other neighbors, they all have their interests and little schemes.

Marguerite said...

I know exactly the type that you speak of. Some years back, we lived in a place with this person's twin at the helm. The manager, as she was called, was so nit-picky that she actually sent spies to walk around the grounds and report any instances of rule breaking. Once, I placed a bag of trash on my patio, and my son was putting his shoes on to take it out to the dumpster, and we're talking about 3 minutes here. I got a notice on my door, later that day, with a $20.00 fine attached, for placing trash on the patio!! I contested the fine and it was ruled in my favor, by a person higher up than her. She reminded me of a drill sergeant gone bad. lol Some people take their jobs a little too seriously!

Land of shimp said...

I don't really understand what would motivate a person to do something so unkind at the heart of it.

I think people like that feel like they have power in their life when they control things. When they run out of things to control in their lives, they turn that outward. Yet, that doesn't explain the false front. Heck, if she just loved rules and regulations to death, had walked by your balcony and said in an imperious tone, "That's not a bird feeder, is it??" I wouldn't like it any better, but that would be someone who, no matter how misguided, was at least acting upon what they thought to be right.

That's not what she was doing. She did something to stick it to you, and I'm at a loss as to why anyone takes pleasure in that.

You are out fifty dollars, and I agree, don't waste your time and energy on fighting this woman's snide manipulations.

However, when you look at what she's lost, she's out far more than fifty dollars, isn't she? She lost your potential friendship. She's lost the goodwill of the entire complex. I'm sure they are good people and if she were ever in danger they would still come to her aid, but will they feel moved to traipse to her door on the inevitable day she leaves her lights on? To save her from a dead battery?

Yes, she's costing herself the goodwill of everyone there, and that's a much, much higher price than fifty dollars.

I'm so sorry you had to take your pretty bird feeder in. Luckily you can still have it to cheer you.

That woman? Yeah, not much left under the sun to cheer her, and rapidly fewer and fewer people who would go out of their way to wish her well in any respect. She's not just mean, she's foolish as can be, and she's by far the greater loser.

We live in an HOA community (same sort of thing as your council), although I had heard horror stories, I've yet to have any problems. Admittedly, I'm sort of stubborn, and I'd likely take to wearing a bird feeder hat, and hanging around outdoors a great deal, while waving merrily at the board members and posting signs on the community bulletin board for avian themed millinery classes :-)

Well probably not in reality, but I'd amuse myself with the visions. Heh, perhaps you could take to humming, "Rocking Robin" every time you pass her, with a broad a smile.

May the bluebird of happiness crap on her patio.

scarlethue said...

"Beware of people who smile at you but their eyes stay dead."

Wise words there. I don't think I would have paid though. I work too hard for my money to give it away to avoid a fight. But to each his/her own, right?

Russell said...

Interesting. Now, just for fun you should just throw out bread and other things that seagulls LOVE to eat! You know. Just sort of, well, leave things on your terrace or let them fall to the ground -- maybe on the lovely lady's terrace or patio -- and watch hundreds and hundreds of seagulls descend!

Then YOU can file a complaint against her having to put up with all those noisy birds! And YOU can tell HER to do something about them -- now!!

Then maybe ALL the residents could get up in arms and go after HER for those silly seagulls that make so much noise!

Maybe she will send each seagull a $50 fine....! I would love to see how she, uh, collects! Or, better yet, how they pay!!!

leilani said...

Feel sorry for her JO, what an absolute negative thing for her to do and how joyless her life must be for choosing the negative when the positive is SOO easy and reaps so much more !

Jo said...

Book Pusher, Omigosh, that's horrible! Can't you call the police about them!? That's harassment!

Katy, I was thinking the very same thing! You can take the girl out of grade seven, but you can't take grade seven out of the girl. *sigh*

DUTA, "One word of warning: don't count on the other neighbors, they all have their interests and little schemes." Oh, yes ... I am very well aware of that. People have their own agendas!

Marguerite, that sounds just the like High Priestess of our Strata Coven. She is making life unbearable for everyone who lives here.

Alane, "However, when you look at what she's lost, she's out far more than fifty dollars, isn't she? She lost your potential friendship." And, yes, the potential friendship of several other people too. Of course, she doesn't see it that way. And yes, may the bluebird of happiness crap on her patio. Love it!

Scarlethue, well, sometimes we have to learn to pick our battles. I could see no good coming of fighting it, in this stance, anyway. Next time -- watch out!

Russell, you just may be a genius...! (And, you're cute too *heh*). Tonight at midnight, I am going to scatter some breadcrumbs around underneath her terrace. The seagulls will love those! And seagulls especially love tuna fish. I just happen to have a couple of cans of tuna. Hmmmm.... Thank you!!

Leilani, she is one of those people whose lips are always pursed in disapproval over everything. People like that don't change, sadly. We just have to learn to deal with them. I love Russell's suggestion. :-)

A.M. said...

This is disgusting. Yet another incident of somebody not minding their own buisness. A bird feeder...come on.

p.s. I wouldn't have paid it.

Cedar said...

WHY THE HECK DID YOU PAY THE 50 BUCKS JOSIE???? I would have written a three page letter back and gave them 50 bucks worth of bite me...really Canadians are way too nice. So, I guess calling Su-Marie and asking her to take the knife out of your back is way something you would also not do.

Sunny said...

Never trust a smiling cat.

frank said...

Hi Jo -

you're such a sweetie ! Here in Oz I've spent a dozen years dealing with an evil witch. There's an observation that strata living brings out the worst in some - little Hitlers, bloated egos carried away with imaginary power when in fact it's usually an unpaid voluntary role that no-one else wants.

I've just spent months acquiring a dozen proxy votes from people who also don't want the evil witch to take over, and guess what - she seems to have quietly faded into the background. Funny how shining the light of goodness can make evil doers go away ...

You Canadian ? I'm planning to visit Canada first time ever in early October - 7-8 days starting and ending in Vancouver, so I'll look forward to seeing what lovely people you have over there - pretty much like Sydney from what I've heard.

Have a lovely day,

Book pusher said...

Hi Jo, yeah we did call the police and their visits have helped, but there has been no recompense for the damage. I think the neighbours wanted us to behave as badly as they did, you know damage their property and be abusive, instead we did everything within the law. I have discovered they are rather notorious, my boss, the school principal warned me about what they are like and gave some really good advice, he said just always stay calm and as annoying as they are if we can stay calm and not respond in the way they want, they will eventualy stop, he was speaking from experience and things have quietened down. I think sometimes this kind of bad behaviour is about attention seeking and needing to feel powerful, it is actually the sign of weakness. Petty Napeoleons are never actually powerful or leaders, just weak, maybe you should be flatterd that your neighbour feels the need to pick on you. Afterall in decorating your balcony you a displaying an independence of spirit and creativity they themselves could not pursue without your leadership and example.

Carl said...

Hi Jo-

Yep our condo board was insane with rules and silly things just like your birdhouse. That could have ben handled much better.
Ultimately we traded living by someones rules for our own house. That we love... but requires so much TLC. Ultimately we made the right choice.


Jo said...

A.M., I just thought it would be easier to pay it than to get into a protracted battle. *sigh*

Cedar, it's not a matter of being nice, it's a matter of cutting her off at the pass. She is looking for a battle. So far she is making her way through the building.

Sunny, oh, yes!!! *chuckle*

Frank, "There's an observation that strata living brings out the worst in some - little Hitlers, bloated egos carried away with imaginary power when in fact it's usually an unpaid voluntary role that no-one else wants." Oh, goodness yes! And I hope you enjoy your visit to Canada. You will love Vancouver. It's very beautiful.

BookPusher, oh, gosh, you have had an awful experience! I have heard rumors about our "witch" too, how she is not very well liked. She has a bit of a reputation in the business world. She is a petty Hitler, definitely.

Carl, I wish I could afford to buy a house. I would buy a little cottage -- with no neighbors...! *heh*

Mean Mama said...

This must be the week for people like this. I'm dealing with two of them. And a friend of mine, who is as nice as you are is dealing with one as well. My friend said that I have a little more *F-you* in me than she does. I really had to learn that. I was not born with it. Sometimes I wish I was nicer.
But I can't understand how people like this live with themselves or sleep at night. So I retaliate. If I were you I probably would have paid the fine...then have her pay. Collect signatures. Maybe you should have her job. Everyone would prefer you,and you could put your decorative feeder back.

Carl said...

Our 'Charming' 1930's cape has been the best/worst thing we ever did. I love it... but if we had stayed in the condo instead of buying near the top of the market our home would be payed off now. Oh well we love the house and are very happy here.

Paula Slade said...

What an awful person! I wouldn't have paid the check and I'd leave the bird feeder up! Do you have any recourse in getting rid of her in your association if others are complaining?

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Country Girl said...

I'm coming late to this one, but NOW I see what happened. And now I am even more cheered by what you said to her in the elevator this morning.
Oh, my gosh. Is she as bad as the black widow spider?

Country Girl said...

After reading back all the comments, I see you've been spammed by the Asian porn person, now masquerading as disa.

When I woke this morning, I had 188 spam messages from this person that I had to delete. I've put comment moderation on posts 14 days or older and have begun using the dratted word verification, which I abhor. But I dislike spam even more.