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Thick Skin

iStock_000000920475XSmallLiving in High Rise Society requires thick skin.  Not the kind of calluses my mother had on the soles of her feet.  Those were a function of age, not environment.  But you’d better learn to let the insults roll off your back, especially if you aspire to become a member of the ruling class, otherwise you could find yourself in real trouble.

Why? Because the law allows tribesmen to verbally sling mud at each other – at least most of the time.  I warned about this in The Bible, but since then lots more angry owners have put it to the test. Something on the inside of High Rise Society makes people say things about each other they wouldn’t say on the outside.

 A private feud among board members at one condo became very public when a bunch of them distributed memos targeting their nemesis – He’s negative and we’re positive; he’s a dictator who took bricks from the building and put them in his driveway, he installed revolving doors that make the staff freeze and lined the elevators with stone so heavy it made the cars sink.  I swear I’m not making this up. That’s not defamation, it’s only healthy disagreement, the court said. Tribesmen have a right to communicate with one another about what’s going on in the building under the so-called “common interest privilege,” and even if they defamed you there’s nothing you can do unless they acted with malice, which is practically impossible to prove.

iStock_000001144466XSmallShareholders at a co-op fed up with the incumbents, sent round flyers demanding the board be replaced with new people to investigate the financial mess left by the old people.  You’re defaming me, the president said.  But the court said what they said was protected by the privilege.

After resigning, the board president at another building sent a letter to fellow owners blaming everything on one board member who he said blabbed things that were said in confidence at meetings.  Even though the blabber admitted it, she said her blabbing was justified, but that his comments about her were defamatory because they made it seem she was unfit to be on the board when he was unfit and she was fit. Thanks to the privilege, the judge left the two to kill each other or work it out.

 ENOUGH, the court finally said just a few weeks ago after shareholders sent round an email with the acid title – Enough Lies are Enough – cataloging the details of their personal feud with the board president over a leak he said they caused in his apartment, and accusing him of submitting a fake letter forged by his plumber. You’re ruining my reputation and undermining my ability to act as president – sound familiar, folks? Only this time the court said you’re right, or at least not wrong, because the offending statements related to a private dispute over property damage.

Knowing the realpolitik of High Rise Society, I think it’s a distinction without a difference.  But for now, better be careful to limit your criticisms to matters of common interest if you want to stay out of legal hot water. The best thing you can do is save your money – don’t spend it on eye creams or wrinkle creams or any other preparations designed to make you skin as soft as a baby’s bottom.  You need tough hide to survive in High Rise Society.

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