Answering the Call . . .

When I attended my first home owners association meeting over 13 years ago, a hot topic was whether or not we should have speed bumps in our community.  It seemed as if everyone wanted them.  We need speed bumps!  We need speed bumps!  Apparently, this was a longterm problem clamoring for action.  But it was up to the board to act, and, so far, it had failed to do so.

Ours is a small community made up of approximately 85 homeowners, with one main road that runs pretty much down the middle.  Its length is just about a half mile.  The roads that branch off on either side are no more than a block or two long, but the main thoroughfare is certainly long enough to permit those drivers so inclined to get up a pretty good head of steam. My good sense favored speed bumps as a workable solution to curbing those inclinations.

Not long after that first meeting, I joined our HOA Board of Directors as secretary. At our initial meeting, I asked casually, “How many of you are in favor of speed bumps?” All four of the other members raised their hands in agreement. I raised mine, too. “Great,” I replied, “I’d like to officially call for a vote to install speed bumps. All those in favor . . . ”  You get the picture. We passed the measure unanimously, and within six months, our “main drag” was rendered impotent as a raceway, with a bone-jarring, teeth-rattling hump of asphalt installed every quarter of a mile.  

No longer did we have to concern ourselves with some maniac driving into the dog walkers and joggers who used our main road for those purposes. Delivery trucks failing to slow at the impediments soon learned the hard way that not slowing down exacted a heavy burden on their suspensions systems. It didn’t take long before everyone complied, and the “suggested” speed limit of 20 miles per hour was adhered to. Oddly, a number of residents actually complained about the speed bumps, but we suspected that they were the ones for whom the bumps were intended in the first place, so we paid them no mind.

I remained on the board for a half dozen years or so after that, as we oversaw requests for exceptions to our fence policy, settled squabbles between neighbors over barking dogs, or intervened when music was played too loudly, or too late into the evening. Ask anyone who has “served” on an HOA board, and they will tell you that it is a mostly thankless job, but a necessary one just the same. Eventually, I gave up my seat in favor of encouraging some “new blood” to be infused into the system.  However, my bent for civic duty compelled me to once again become a member about two years ago when a new president asked me to lend a hand “primarily in a ceremonial capacity.”  Yeah, right. So now I’m the vice president!

Already there have been “issues” that have arisen requiring board approval or intervention, and I have answered the call. Most recently, two neighbors got into a squabble when cars belonging to visitors to one home owner drove onto the lawn of the other.   Our suggested remedy?  A border of large rocks placed at three-foot intervals along the front margin of the violated neighbor’s property. This solution was arrived at after I endured several, hour-long sessions in my living room with the offended party, as he made his point—over and over and over and . . .  Can’t we all just get along?

This week, I was at it again. The speed bumps had become an issue once more, after the company we contracted with to repave our roads sprayed them with tar, effectively making them invisible—but no less an impediment to cars passing over them. So, I was out there on Thursday applying two coats of vibrant, yellow paint to each of the four bumps. Becky helped by placing reflective, orange cones in place to deter drivers from marring the paint as it dried. (My male ego wouldn’t permit her to actually paint them, which was her ardent desire. No doubt, she would have done a better job than I did.)  Sorry, honey!  (I did appreciate the moral support, as always.)

Community is more than a word that describes where you live; it’s a mindset that encompasses a sense of involvement. If you’ve not answered the call of duty where you live, give it a try. I think you’ll find it a rewarding endeavor—in a purely ceremonial capacity, of course.

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