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Ode To Presidents

On this day it seems only fitting to give a nod to our presidents – no not the ones who once led our nation to greatness, and now lead us on a shopping frenzy the third February of every year – but those of our neighbors who we elected to represent us. Maybe they don’t wield the power of those real presidents, but they have power over the people they live with.  That can be even scarier. While the odds are slim that relations with foreign countries, other than a few rogue states like Iran and North Korea, will deteriorate to the point of no return, the chances of a fellow resident doing something that rubs them the wrong way is almost a certainty — and a reason to be thankful there are as yet no standing armies on the home front.

 “Do you know who you’re talking to?” I once heard George W. say to a reporter who addressed him as Sir, instead of the more respectful, Mr. President, which surprised me because you wouldn’t think a little thing like that would tick off the most powerful person on the planet. So I guess I shouldn’t have been taken aback to have heard a board member say the very same thing to a resident who made the mistake of not jumping to attention when asked why he was sitting in the doorman’s seat.         

“That’s the President, you know,” someone said to my newly-moved-in friend, who was totally confused because all she could see was a short, pudgy. bald guy who looked more like Danny DeVito than the leader of the free world.  “Do you know what he can do to you?” the Voice said in a menacing tone that suggested imprisonment at Gitmo or rendition to some black hole, not powers I thought any of my neighbors possessed.  Not that she had a clue what she’d done till she was directed to take the service elevator because her perfume gave the President’s dog hives.

The truth is board power is on the rise, thanks to the courts (a topic for another day), and delusions of grandeur are not far behind. My colleague called to tell me that the wife of their building’s newly-elected president, who had won by default because no one else wanted the job, insists on being called The First Lady.  Move over Michelle.

 Those of you who don’t live on the  high rise home front probably think I’m making this up.  I’m not that clever.  And I know it probably seems too absurd for serious contemplation. But ignore the situation at your peril. Not only will lots of your fellow citizens be cowed into submission, for fear their sales or renovations or whatever will be rejected, but eventually you may find yourself in the crosshairs. 

That’s why you have to nip the problem in the bud. Maybe a Joe Wilson shout out isn’t the way to go, but silence will only allow the situation to fester. So do whatever you have to do to wake up your neighbors. History teaches it’s much harder to remove despots after they’ve become entrenched.

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