Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Life In A South Florida Condo

Life in a South Florida Condo

If you remember the Seinfeld episodes about his parent’s retirement condo in “Boca Delray” and were wondering if he exaggerated, the answer is NO!

My parents lived in a Retirement Condo Community in Delray Beach.  They loved it there.  Both were active with the Condo Board and the Social Club.  My mother was active with them until she died at age 90. 

There are many stories about incidents in the community; people coming to blows over the last cherry cheese Danish in the bakery, driving horror stories, bickering, and early bird dinners. 

Price and quantity always trumped quality and taste in the restaurants.   My mother once made me eat at a restaurant that served inedible food simply because it was cheap and they gave you a lot of it.

Here are four true stories about life in the condo’s.  Doesn’t matter where, I’m sure they apply to everywhere.

First, my mother goes outside one morning and her next door neighbor hurries over to speak with her.  He tells her he was outside last night and saw a car bump into her parked car. 

He and my mother go over to her car and see a scratch and scuff marks on her bumper.  She asks him if he knows who the car that hit her car belongs to.  The neighbor tells her it was the Neighborhood Watch car that did it.

My mother, who is on the Board of Directors, goes up to the club house to speak with the President of the Association. 

She tells him what happened the night before.

The President looks up who was driving the car last night and says: “Oh, that was Ernie, I’m going to have to switch him to days, he has night blindness”.

The irony of the Neighborhood Watch guy not being able to see was lost on him.

Second, my sister and my mother would shop every Saturday morning at a place called “The Boys”.  The Boys started out as a roadside fruit and vegetable stand and became so successful they bought some land, built their own building and now have fruit, vegetables, bakery items, meats, fish, specialty items , fresh squeezed juice, and many other food stuffs.  It has become a landmark in Palm Beach County.

Everyone goes there.  The Boys let them sample the fruits and some of the prepared items and baked goods.  Their fruits and vegetables are truly the best.  Many of the Condo dwellers go there to have lunch by eating the samples.

The place is very successful and very crowded.  This leads to problems.

There are many accidents in the parking lot, and altercations within the store and in the lot between the retiree’s.

On this particular day, my sister and mother were shopping.  They had already put items into their shopping cart.  They left the cart for a minute in order to get some item further down the aisle.  When they returned, the cart was gone.

My sister starts searching for her cart.  She soon finds a woman who is using my sister’s cart to purchase her own items.  My sister’s items are still in the cart.

My sister confronts the woman.  “What are you doing with my cart?” she demands.

“How do you know it’s your cart?” the woman answers.

“Because my items are in it” my sister angrily replies.

The woman attempts to push on.

My sister blocks the way.  “I am going to take my cart back, you can remove your items or they go with me” my sister tells the woman.

The woman indignantly takes her items out of the cart and leaves.

The woman had forgotten to take a cart on the way in and felt it was ok to steal someone else’s cart.  She had the misfortune to take my sister’s.

This type of behavior is typical of what goes on there.

The third story concerns advice they give each other, particularly at the pool.

The pool is the natural gathering place for gossip.  The women and some men go there to trade advice, get the latest gossip, voice political opinions or give restaurant and store reviews.

God forbid someone pans a local restaurant; it can quickly lose favor and go out of business.

Financial advice, health diagnoses, pronouncements on mortgages, stocks, bonds, cars, all are made with much gravity at the pool.

My mother would often call me to tell me what she had heard or what her friends had told her she should do.  

“All my friends say I should get a new car.  They all agree mine’s too old” she would tell me.

“Fine, I will take you down to the new car lot and you can buy a new car to travel the 15 miles a week you use the car for.  But you will have to pay $16,000 to $23,000 in cash, or have payments and your insurance will go up.  When do you want to go?” I would answer.  (When we finally sold her car, after she had passed on, the car which was 20 years old and worked perfectly, only had 53,000 miles.  We stopped her from driving around the town the last couple of years because she couldn’t turn her head to look to the side and her depth perception and judgment in driving had deteriorated.  We were afraid she would get into an accident.  We did let her continue driving in the retirement community from her home to the clubhouse and pool during daylight hours.  A distance of 500 feet.  My sister and I figured if she hit one of the condo people, no great loss.)

After thinking about the financial consequences, she usually stopped asking for a month or until she went back to the pool.

Once, she was complaining her back was hurting.  The pool “doctors” all had their views on what was wrong and what to do about it.

One genius, a man, stated he had the same problem with his back in the exact same spot my mother was complaining about.

“I know just what is causing it and what to do about it,” he said.  It’s the prostate.  It gets swollen and puts pressure on your kidneys and bladder.  That’s what is causing the pain in your back.  You need to go to the Urologist I go to and he can help you.”

My mother regarded him for a moment with her jaw open in disbelief.  Then in her characteristically sweet way said: “Jack, can you see me, are you an idiot?  I’m a woman!  Women don’t have prostates”.

He was not convinced.

The fourth story and my favorite, concerns a reputed theft.

One of my mother’s neighbors, we’ll call him Mr. Schwartz, wakes up one morning and calls the police.  You will have to imagine him talking in a NY Jewish accent to appreciate this story fully.

“I vould like to report a robbery in mine house,” Mr. Schwartz tells the police dispatcher.  The dispatcher tells him they are sending a deputy.

The deputy arrives and asks what was stolen.

“My grapes.  I vent to The Boys yesterday, bought some grapes and left them on the table so I could eat them today.  When I voke up this morning, they were gone.  Someone broke into my house and stole my grapes,” answers Mr. Schwartz.

The deputy thinks about this and says to Mr. Shwartz: “Mr. Schwartz, you are 85 years old, is it possible you ate the grapes before you went to bed and just forgot? There is no sign of forced entry and nothing else is missing”.

“Absolutely not” Mr. Schwartz answers indignantly. “My grapes vere stolen and I have proof they vere stolen!”

“Proof?” asks the deputy. “What proof do you have?”

“Grapes give me diarrhea.  If I had eaten the grapes last night, I vould have had diarrhea and I don’t have diarrhea.  Therefore I did not eat the grapes, someone must have broken in last night and stolen them” replied Mr. Schwartz.

The deputy took the report and left.  I can only imagine what went on when he filed his report back at the station.

Can’t you just see Jerry Stiller saying these things?  I sure can.

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