The community meet­ing from Hell

Costa del Sol News - - FRONT PAGE -

IT TURNS out that stab­bing your­self re­peat­edly in the thigh with a biro for five min­utes con­tin­ues to hurt for sev­eral days even if the ac­tion doesn't draw blood. Mind you, if it hadn’t been for the pen it could’ve been a lot worse. I could have ground my teeth down to my rib cage or thrown chairs at a group of peo­ple who for the love of all that is holy just would- n’t shut up.

The writ­ing im­ple­ment was my pres­sure re­lease valve dur­ing a re­cent ex­tra­or­di­nary gen­eral meet­ing of my ur­ban­iza­tion, which was called with only a few days’ no­tice and seem­ingly for no ur­gent rea­son. Ev­ery mat­ter could’ve waited un­til the AGM at Easter.

So, when I should have been on a beach ap­ply­ing sun­tan lo­tion to the row of bikini-clad beau­ties of my fer­vent imag­i­na­tion, I was stuck in a poorly air-con­di­tioned room with about 60 other peo­ple for nearly five hours.

You'd think that it be­ing a hot Satur­day in Au­gust, peo­ple would be in a hurry to get out and so would make their points suc­cinctly. Oh no. Short of get­ting a five-year-old child to read out aloud War and Peace in Span­ish and English, I don’t think my neigh­bours could have done any­thing more to drag out pro­ceed­ings. Root canal work with­out anaes­thetic would have come as sweet and blessed re­lief.

I loathe meet­ings. They’re tense, neg­a­tive, un­pro­duc­tive time sucks that ac­com­plish very little, and are full of peo­ple who talk be­cause they can, not be­cause they have any­thing valu­able to con­trib­ute. I swear Dante screwed up when he wrote his 14th-cen­tury epic poem. It should’ve been ten cir­cles of hell, with meet­ings and the emo­tions they gen­er­ate right in there as the most tor­tu­ous of the lot.

For­tu­nately, be­ing self-em­ployed I rarely have to at­tend meet­ings, but when I was salaried I en­dured more than my fair share of point­less gath­er­ings with petty-mind peo­ple who pur­sued triv­ial issues seem­ingly obliv­i­ous to the ill feel­ing they were caus­ing or the magma pools of anger that were bub­bling up.

The worst by far was a meet­ing of pro­duc­tion and ad­min staff to de­cide which shade of grey our new of­fice fur­ni­ture and no­tice­boards would be.

Ididn't give a fly­ing picket, but at­ten­dance was com­pul­sory. The fresh pots of cof­fee, bagels and choco­late bis­cuits, while de­li­cious were scant com­pen­sa­tion for lis­ten­ing to peo­ple drone on about the mood-en­hanc­ing ben­e­fits of plat­inum grey or how cool greys cre­ate har­mo­nious en­vi­ron­ments.

By the time I took my seat at our community meet­ing I was al­ready in a pretty foul mood, which quickly wors­ened when some­one threw in a con­ver­sa­tional grenade that det­o­nated on im­pact, the room ex­plod­ing in up­roar. I could see it com­ing in slow-mo­tion be­cause the per­son pre­ceded his ques­tion with “be­fore we get started…” We wasted nearly an hour. Still, it could’ve been worse.

At our first meet­ing sev­eral years back, one of my Span­ish neigh­bours crit­i­cised the date of its call­ing be­cause it was the day be­fore a gen­eral elec­tion. This didn’t give him enough time to get back to his main home and vote. His crit­i­cism was fol­lowed by more than two hours of de­bate be­fore we even got to point one on the agenda, ac­tu­ally be­fore we even got to “wel­come ladies and gentle­men to our first AGM”.

At the most re­cent meet­ing, the main or­der of the day was to vote on whether or not to con­tinue us­ing a com­pany that pro­vides us with a vital ser­vice. As we had al­ready voted on this at Easter, this was a mon­u­men­tal waste of time.

Now when it comes to things like com­pa­nies that clean your pools, look after your gar­dens or tidy up your com­plex, you al­ready have an opin­ion about them be­fore you at­tend a meet­ing. Noth­ing that any­body says is go­ing to sway you. All dis­cus­sion is re­dun­dant.

Not in my community, be­cause sev­eral peo­ple spent 90 min­utes go­ing round in cir­cles, say­ing noth­ing of merit. If I had big­ger co­jones I would’ve stood up and told every­one to but­ton it. As it was, I meekly asked if we could move to a vote. This was ig­nored.

Some of my neigh­bours, so nice and warm in per­son turn into mon­sters when in meet­ings. Oth­ers ap­pear to have a form of Tourette’s where they just blurt out ran­dom stuff, cut­ting across who­ever is speak­ing.

As I looked around the room, it dawned on me the hu­man race is doomed. If a group of neigh­bours get so an­gry so quickly about tri­fling issues such as whether tow­els can be hung on bal­conies, you re­alise hu­man­ity hasn’t got a hope in hell.

You'd think that it be­ing a hot Satur­day in Au­gust, peo­ple would be in a hurry to get out and so would make their points suc­cinctly. Oh no....

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