The condo complex upstate that Husband and I don’t get away to often enough uses a system of robocalls to alert homeowners to maintenance issues. Since we’re part-time residents, most of the calls don’t affect us to a huge degree, and I listen to them on my cell with a combination of amusement and detached interest. At this moment, our entire community, let’s call it Sunnyview, is being repaved. Sunnyview is composed of ten buildings with about twenty units per building – uppers and lowers – kind of like the Orient Express, but stationary and without the murder. We’re in an upper.
Each unit is over a little driveway that leads to a garage, and there’s a communal parking area beyond that. There’s also a clubhouse, swimming pool, and tennis court, and it’s all meticulously maintained by the management company, let’s call them Skippy Management. The folks over at Skippy are so efficient they often forget that we on the other end of their automated messages are not robots like them. I sized them up ten years ago when their agent showed up at a homeowner’s meeting in a tweed suit. At the end of August. A woman in wool in eighty-degree heat has to be part amphibian.
I’ll cut to the chase and tell you that the robocall I received on my cell Tuesday afternoon informed me that the garage to our unit had to be left open starting at 6:00 in the morning on Wednesday. The paving equipment needed access to the entire area or the homeowner would be fined $250 for holding up the project, to say nothing of displeasing the Blackie Construction Co. With traffic, it’s a three-hour drive to the condo, so I called a neighbor who I gave a spare key to a few years ago in preparation for just this scenario. She’s a widowed or single woman, an indeterminate number of years older than me.
OSV: Hi, Dotty? It’s your neighbor from two doors down. We won’t be able to come up on Wednesday, so would you do me a favor and open our garage when you open yours?
DOTTY: Oh, you’re not here?
DOTTY: I thought you were here.
OSV: Uh, no. In fact, we’ve hardly been up all summer.
DOTTY: Are you ill?
OSV: No, just busy.
DOTTY: Well, I’m ill. In fact, I’m in bed.
OSV: Oh, I’m sorry. I won’t bother you then. I just don’t know how Skippy expects those of us who don’t live in Sunnyview year-round to get there on a day’s notice. I just got their automated message today.
DOTTY: But they’ve sent so many notices in the mail. Don’t you get them?
OSV: Skippy keeps sending them to the condo.
DOTTY: Well, you should ask someone here to mail them to you.
OSV: Umm…I did. I asked you. You had me give you a stack of stamped addressed envelopes.
DOTTY: Oh, that’s right. I’m in bed.
OSV: Yes, I’m so sorry. Feel better.
I decided to throw myself on the mercy of the court. I bit my lip and called Skippy Management to see if they had any suggestions. They suggested I make some friends in the community so I don’t find myself in this kind of bind. Really? It was a guy I spoke with, and I bet he had on wool underwear considering we’re in August again. I wanted to tell him that we do have friends in the community, we have lovely friends who are also weekenders like us, SO THERE. I hung up and got in my car.
A hundred and thirty miles later, I went to bed upstate and set the alarm for 6:00 so I could open the garage for Blackie Construction exactly on time and not incur their displeasure, whatever that would look like. Maybe their full name is Blackie Construction & Gun Running and they’d seal me in a drum and drop me in the river if my garage door was even slightly closed. Then they’d FedEx my pinky to Skippy Management as proof that I was out of compliance. The people at Skippy would put my finger in a jar with all the other severed pinkies and have a raffle at Christmas to raise money for woolen orphan clothes.
The paving went without incident. Wednesday night on the way home, I got a follow-up robocall from my pals at Skippy. Since I have Bluetooth, I listened to it in all its amplified glory from my Harman/Kardon speakers:
Hello, this is Skippy Management. Residents of Building 7, remember that you cannot walk on the blacktop until Sunday and you cannot drive your car on it until Tuesday. Tomorrow we begin on Building 5; if you live in Building 5, you must leave your garage open starting at 6:00 am. Residents of Buildings 1 and 2, you can begin driving on your blacktop Friday. Residents of Building 5, you will not be able to walk on your driveway until Wednesday. You can begin driving on the blacktop next Saturday. Residents of Buildings 8 and 9, we will be doing your areas on Monday. You must make alternate arrangements for parking your car until a week from Thursday or the next solar eclipse, whichever comes first. Residents of Building 10. . .
Daughter’s Fotos say Adventure Time in NYC, so come on along and get happy