Last year November, I moved into an apartment building (buying the unit, or rather having the bank buy it and paying back now for forever). The building has 65 apartments on 7 floors. There is a house committee whose reports I’ve been getting and suddenly, I get a paper with my name on it, being the vice whatever chairman of the committee and an invitation for the committee meeting, which happened on the 20th of March. I thought I better show up there when my name is on it and it’s good that I went.
Japanese community overdose 😉
I entered the community room of the house a bit late due to work and found some fifteen people gathered and an old man greeting me with the words. “Oh, gaijin da.” “Oops, a foreigner!”
I bulged into the room during a presentation of a guy from Panasonic who was introducing a new interphone system to us. That presentation was Japanese sales-men-of-the-old-sort style, he had a demonstration machine with him and reminded me strongly of movies from the seventies with vacuum cleaner flying sales men in it. Next up was his competitor. A not so well known company called Aiphone, in existence for sixty years, the sales dude said, and not to be confused with any iPhones.
The apartment owners are employing an administrative company who is sending a guard man there five days a week, usually old gentlemen who perform this not too tough after retirement job to get some money. There was a younger guy from the company there though, who functioned as the chairman of the meeting. He made us vote on the spot for either Aiphone or Panasonic, shushing the sales guys out. (Aiphone won, in the style of: Chairman: Aiphone is OK, isn’t it, right? Right? – Maybe he’s got a deal with the company ;-))
Next, administration chairman ran through the year-end-report of 2016 in magnificent speed, rattling down numbers and items that even the Japanese had trouble to follow.
Last but not least the agenda point came up of who will be on the house committee for 2017 and I finally got a word in, introducing myself and asking what this was about, citing that I’ll be too busy attending every meeting due to work and the occasional overseas business trip, which brought one of the housewives to say to her neighbor, “ehhh overseas business trips….” Seems that was something she has not been confronted with yet. The administration guy and the former committee boss reassured me that it’s not such a big job and if I’m not there I’m not there, but I should try to come to the committee meetings.
The committee membership is rotating through the building and it’s coincidence that my floor half’s turn is 2017. The next turn of half of the floor I’m on will be ten years down the road. They didn’t give me any sort of choice to bail out of the “job”.
That clarified they went through some other agenda points, one of them being that ours is a pets-are-not-allowed building but nevertheless several people do have small dogs (maybe cats too, I didn’t get that part). Then they started ganging up on one of the apartment owners in floor 5. The people in apartment 5xx ignore the rules! They don’t answer to inquiries (we had a “do you have a pet questionnaire” going around a few weeks earlier). They never show up to the committee meetings! His neighbor said he had “reached the limit of patience” with the unit and asked the administration guy to talk to them.
Woah, they need serious conflict management 😉 Now I’m interested in the people who live in unit 5xx 😉 non-conform Japanese, sticking out of the crowd! 😉
The whole meeting took a ridiculous three hours, well, one and a half of them were from the interphone sales guys. I will have some fun with that committee in the future. But all in all it didn’t look like they’d gang up on me, despite me being the only foreigner in the building 😉 But whew, time stands still here and we are still in the Showa era 😉 All in all it’s good that I went there. So far I was greeted on the corridor either not at all or apprehensively. Throughout the week I met one of the committee members and now I’m being greeted with a friendly, loud voice. Let’s hope that lasts 😉