I feel a little disappointed. Why?
Well it’s kind of a long story. My wife Gimalle and I live in a downtown condo which is comprised of two high-rise towers and 230 suites. We have a population of approximately 450 people.
Calgary, the wonderful and beautiful city in which we live, has been under assault for the last day and a half from torrential rains, the likes of which this city has never seen before. This rainfall has caused horrific devastation across our city and many surrounding towns. Some hundred thousand people have been evacuated from their homes and many of those people are learning that they no longer have homes to return to.
The scenes of destruction shown on television have been indescribable and it is heart-wrenching to think of how much damage has been wrought, how many lives have been uprooted and how many family’s dreams and memories are now flowing into storm sewers and rivers, never to be seen again.
For some five years now I have served as a member of our condominium Board of Directors. I made a decision at 4AM yesterday morning to evacuate all vehicles in our almost 400 car parade on the advice of our electrical and plumbing service providers who were responding to an alarm which showed our basement pumps were at risk of malfunctioning.
The advice was based on their experience at 1:30AM yesterday morning while responding to an identical alarm in a condo building much like ours and observing a pump failure leading to a burst pipe resulting in four levels of parking – roughly the same size as ours – transcending from bone dry to knee-high in water in less than 30 minutes, potentially causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages to the parked vehicles.
Prior to making the final decision to evacuate vehicles I dialed the city emergency management number, explained our situation, and was given the same advice.
I contacted (woke) my fellow board members and we devised an evacuation plan for the parkade. We rapidly printed notices, fanned out, and knocked on 240 doors asking people to remove their vehicles.
We slid a notice under the doors of those who did not respond to our loud knocking.
For the most part, the folks we talked with were appreciative of our efforts and agreed to remove their vehicles immediately.
It’s the others who provided fodder for today’s blog.
One charming lady told us to &$^@ off to mind our own &$^@ing business. Another fine gentleman angrily pointed to his watch and demanded to know if I “knew what time it was?”
Several folks refused to open their doors and demanded we go away. One person blamed us for the entire situation and pointed out that if we had even the remotest idea of what we were doing – idiots that we are – we would have arranged an alternate parking location for our residents.
Two people demanded that the condo corporation reimburse them for the costs of parking elsewhere and my favourite was the young princess who sleepily handed me her car keys – along with a $5 bill and told me to go and park her car on the street.
While knocking on doors we also asked for volunteers to help us prepare for what we thought might be severe damage to our property. We had heard and seen media reports of many buildings close to us that were under mandatory evacuation and were expecting to be advised by city officials of our own need to evacuate.
So why my disappointment?
We were talking to folks who own their own condominiums – owners of their own homes – and we received all of four offers of assistance.
We certainly did not speak to each owner but what was most disappointing was the response of some.
A few told us they simply were not interested in helping. One told us that it is not his job to help; it’s our job as the (volunteer) board of directors and a few told us that once they removed their vehicles from the parkade, the situation was no longer their problem.
I may be painting a grim picture of uncaring and apathetic people but all of the above-mentioned anger, criticism and refusal to help came from only seven people, and five years on the condo board have well prepared me for these types of responses.
Water off a duck’s back.
What was disappointing was the absence of offers to help.
Gimalle and I, as well as our condo board members, spent the entire day in the lobbies of our buildings busily, and visibly, preparing for evacuation the while answering residents’ questions as best we could.
Throughout the day two more folks offered assistance.
The folks in our building are fine people and I do not mean to be critical. I am sure that if we do experience any event of a serious nature these same folks will be instantly available to help in any way they can just as we have witnessed others do in those parts of the city that have been most damaged.
The apathy we have experienced is simply further validation of the blog I wrote two weeks ago, #201. I don’t want to get involved, and further reminded me of that magnificent aphorism “if it is to be, it is up to me”.
Our condo board is comprised of dedicated, hardworking and committed members and I am so grateful to them for all they do.
Gimalle asked me recently why I continue to volunteer as a board member year after year. It took me a while to find the answer within myself, but I finally figured it out.
I’m just in it for the money.
Till we read again.
P.S. I am very excited to share with you that my book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at www.lifesinksorsoars.com and let me know what you think.
P.P.S. I had the privilege of doing my first ever radio interview a few weeks ago. The topic of the interview was my book, Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours. Here is a link to my interview.
I did a second radio interview recently. Here is the link.
I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas or suggestions once you have listened to the interviews. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your thoughts