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April 01, 2013

Tales from the condo zone – I never thought it would happen to me…

Jim Zang

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There are strange things done in condominium
By those who toil on the board;
The alpha males tell their manly tales
And the women won’t be ignored;
Yes, these meeting nights have seen some sights,
But the queerest I ever did see
Was when the condo manager asked “who’s the prez?”
And everyone answered “Me”.

(With a tip of the hat to Canadian poet, Robert Service)

If you’ve lived in a condo, or know someone who has, then you’ve probably either seen or heard your fair share of amusing (and maybe some not so amusing) stories about living in a condominium.

Being in charge of Condo Living magazine for the past nine years, I’ve heard a few good ones myself. And, of course, a couple of my key industry contacts who have their own condo management companies have heard and seen it all. The names have been changed to protect the guilty, and my sources wish to remain anonymous for both professional and personal reasons, but the stories are, for the most part true.

So, without further adieu, here it is, our very first edition of ‘Tales From the Condo Zone’.

“Where do I start?” says my female condo manager friend. “How about with the condo resident who got caught throwing snowballs at his neighbour’s windows? In full view of the windows of literally  dozens of other residents, all of whom recognized him.”

Nope, probably not a Mensa candidate.

“Or”, she says, “how about the lady who insists that the hallways in her condo are haunted and wants to do an exorcism?”

No word on if the ghost has a black pompadour haircut and was crooning Love Me Tender but, if you see him, call the Enquirer.

“Another time,” she says, “I got a call about a woman who was sun tanning nude on her deck when the window washers arrived at her building.”

No word on how her tan turned out, but rumour has it her windows were extra clean.

And those are just the stories that are fit to print!

From my old university buddy who now runs his own condo management company comes the ubiquitous ‘snakes in a condo’ story. Seems somebody was sitting in their living room when, out of the corner of their eye, they see something slither across the floor. Step one: jump up onto the couch. Step two: call the condo board. Step three: climb higher onto the couch.

Of course, when the call comes in, it’s a doozy. It’s a maneater, for sure. Maybe the size of the snake in the movie Anaconda. At least a 10-footer. The fellow resident accused bringing the snake in? He just came back from overseas and, gosh darn it, he doesn’t know how it got into his luggage and then escaped once at home in his condo.

The truth, says my buddy, lies somewhere in between. It’s a corn snake. Harmless, unless you’re a mouse. It’s maybe two-feet long from tip to tip. And he knows exactly who brought it in and when, because it’s all on video.

I guess that’s why some condos have bylaws about what kind of pets they allow you to move in with, as can be attested to by another friend whose serpentine roommate, Monty, was the reason his recent attempted condo purchase fell through. Note to animal lovers: check the bylaws first, before you pay for a home inspection.

Another friend, who is the president of her condo board, tells of being awoken every day at seven a.m. by a flock of pigeons on her deck. They were noisy and left her deck covered in what she describes as ‘pigeon love’. “Rats with wings”, is how she describes them. A glance across the back alley into the pigeon coop in the yard of the single-family home across the way left no doubt as to where the birds were coming from. So

it was obvious the whole flock wouldn’t be flying south or anything anytime soon. After attempts at shooing them away by yelling and throwing things failed, she called her condo management company for their advice. They called an exterminator who, in turn, suggested the best solution was likely a steady hand and a good BB gun. “You might save a little on grocery bills that way too,” he said. Funny, if you’re not a bird lover, but not a practical inner-city solution.

Perhaps the oddest thing to happen, though, she says, was the time a young couple tried to smuggle their newborn into their age restricted (21-plus) condo building. “I don’t know if they thought none of us would notice she wasn’t pregnant anymore or that their baby wouldn’t cry or whatever. I just don’t get that one. I mean, how long did they think they could keep their baby a secret?” Of course the birth announcement in the daily paper, car seat, grocery bags full of baby food and Pampers were dead giveaways. Not to mention the squirming, wriggling bulge under mom’s coat every time she went out or came home. Says my friend, “I guess they really loved that condo.”

Another friend who is the president of his condo board — yes, I seem to know a lot of them — tells the story of a ‘condo within a condo’. Seems an immigrant family from Hong Kong purchased a unit in a row-housing style townhome. At first, he says, it was just the nuclear family: mom, dad and a couple of kids. Soon, though, he noticed an older couple coming and going. And then another family. And another. And another. What had happened, he says, is that the townhomes were all connected in the attic — they weren’t partitioned off — and, while other folks were off at work during the day, these would-be condo developers went ahead and turned the entire attic space from one end of the building to the other into living units. Needless to say the proper authorities (condo board and condo management company) were called in, the people evicted, and the units disassembled. But, you’ve got to admit, it’s still kind of funny. Believe it, or not.

"There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee"

Excerpt from The Cremation of Sam McGee, by Robert Service.

What about you? What would your condo walls say if they could talk? Tell us your funny condo story and we might just publish it. Send your email addressed to our editor, Pepper Rodriguez, at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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