Monday, July 25, 2016

The Rattle of Negativity

My mother is on the board of her co-op/condo building. She was also chosen from a large pool of volunteers to participate on the design committee.

The design committee is almost finished with a one year renovation of 15 floors,  hallways,  hidden alcoves, and the crowning piece--the lobby. The committee of ten, a designer and hundreds of craftsman, carpet layers, painters have had to please hundreds of people.

You know where this is going, right?

Precisely. You can't please hundreds of people. And just like the Republican party, the condo owners are split.

As the project nears its end, the complainers have emerged. Some are vociferous. Some are quiet and rely on the vociferous, or so the vociferous say.

Mom's received emails, been accosted in the lobby, and has even called ahead to make sure the coast is clear from a certain angry woman.

Then I arrive.

"I want you to come down to the lobby and see if it's really that bad."

I'm a little nervous.

But when we walk into the redesigned space, I think it is classy, clean-lined, high design----scrumptious. I love it. Mom is happy and relieved.

"Oh no, here she comes."

A woman in purple with a tight scowl descends the staircase.

Mom says, "Hello _______, I brought an expert and she loves the place."

Gulp, gulp.

I quickly think how I may be an expert. I remodeled my kitchen? I've designed and crafted stained glass? I just spent two weeks at the Louvre embracing art with a discerning eye? I've taken art classes? Simply, I am my mother's daughter which means she believes in me.

The woman in purple starts her litany of all the design mistakes. In her eyes, the place is a design disaster.

"Look at those green chairs. Horrid."

"I love that shade of green. "

She walks me over to the couch. "Look at this couch. It's filthy. Just filthy."

"Have you ever been to Haiti?" I ask. "The couch is not filthy."

"This isn't Haiti!"

"This couch isn't filthy."

Her diatribe continues.

"Look," I say to her, "everyone has different tastes. You're wearing purple. I would never wear that shade of purple."

"But it's an exercise outfit and I can take it off."

She got me there.

I try a different approach. "Tell me, what do you like?"

She's not going to budge. At least for me.

 She's worn me down in a matter of minutes, and to try to convince her is pointless.  I step back, fold my arms and decide to just listen.

Mom comes to the rescue.

Like a master, she listens and empathizes. We decide to try different chairs. We pull two chairs from the out door foyer. We try two chairs from the elevator landing. The woman is opening and letting out the festering negativity. She can see how the tile (previously deemed as only belonging in a bathroom), pulls in all the colors. She's almost liking the place.

Wanting to end on a positive note, I tell the woman in purple that if I had a team, I'd want her on it.  Probably. Her dogged determination could move mountains. Yet her negativity could bring down a...a..... political party, a marriage, a family, a charity...