Being A Condo Owner

Certain people in my apartment building take issue with insects and spiders. We are approaching that time of the year. Typically, the dominant threads in the apartment building’s group chat are about the sluggings and stabbings in certain parts of town (far away from where our building is), a police car that may have been seen (from a top apartment on the east side of the building) trundling by in a street in yet another part of town, and the recurring troubles with the car lift, which succeeds in trapping a car and the people in them like a giant mouse trap at least twice a week. But now the focus is on bugs.

A married couple kicked off the exchange, canvassing for the rehire of the Spider Man. I had so far been unaware of the Spider Man’s existence. I gathered that his lethal trade had been engaged last year as well. From what I could make out from the chat, the Spider Man sprays; I don’t know where, with what or how many times, but he sprays and the critters die. Quite some residents signed up at the local currency equivalent of $ 75 per apartment. One apartment texted it was too expensive and that they would deal with it differently; no specifics were provided. But an ecologically woke person objected, arguing (I’m paring down the argument to a simple syllogism; in reality it was so elaborate, it required three separate posts): (i) that insects and spiders are in a place in the food chain that has birds above them; (ii) meaning that birds eat bugs; (iii) ergo, that if bugs die, birds die. Birds are where the food chain ends in the country of my exile, so that is where the syllogism had to end; it doesn’t get worse than that. The female of the married couple doubled down, claiming she suffers from arachnophobia so bad it prevents her from leaving the apartment if a tiny spider is between her and the front door. She added that the Spider Man uses biobased, biodegradable poison. So would the ecologically concerned person kindly shut the fuck up – a pathology was going on here! Shutting the fuck up was what that person did; more than kindly: it took another two turns in the chat for her to cringingly express her politically correct apologies. Who would want to be noticeable for gainsaying a mentally imbalanced person? For suggesting that the earth’s ecology outranks a crazy person’s pathology?

Although I’m in the chat, I never contribute a single message. Nor do I contribute to discussions in the owner’s association. I’m totally uninvolved with anything going on in the resident’s group, except when the value of my apartment is at stake. Then, eschewing all debate, not saying one word, I blindly use my blocking vote, which I have because I’m in an apartment that is twice the size and four times the market value of the next biggest apartment. To monitor developments relevant to my apartment is the only reason I’m in the chat. Reading the exchange I was amazed at the bared-faced fallacy of the arachnophobic woman’s reasoning, and the other woman’s immediate resignation to it. Would biobased poison accumulating in a bird’s organs be less toxic to the bird than any old-school poison? Does it matter that once a bird has succumbed, the poison inside it will be broken down to environmentally innocuous substances? In other words, should not the question have been what “biobased” and “biodegradable” mean in terms of the danger that the poison poses to birds? It does kill bugs. Why not birds? To close the argument, I can’t think of pesticides or rodenticides, whether or not “biobased” or “biodegradable”, that humans are not strongly advised against to consume.

But of course, I hold my tongue.

The blatant lack of capacity for logical reasoning reminded me of my AVEDA hairdresser, who once pointed out to me that AVEDA products are “90%” organic (botanical), i.e. non-synthetic, therefore harmless to hair and follicles. I tried to explain, first, that a chemical substance can do harm regardless of whether it is organic or botanical or synthetic, second, that toxicity thresholds are not relative but absolute and that if an AVEDA hair masque contained a mere 1 ‰ (one per mille) of something that, in that relatively tiny amount, is harmful to my hair or skin or follicles, then the remaining 999 ‰ of components are entirely irrelevant to the consequences. But this was something I could not get across. I put a pin in it and surrendered to the delicious if unnatural smell of the AVEDA scalp and hair treatment instead, blissfully aware that I could afford the best of permanent wigs if it ever came to that.

Because, let’s face the age-old truth, for those justifiably skeptical of human intelligence, it always boils down to the same thing: wealth – how to amass, protect and increase it.

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