• The media are full of reports of the deeds of tyrants in countries all over the world. Getting much less coverage are the acts of petty tyrants in our immediate world. You find them everywhere–little people put in positions of authority making draconian decisions. Japanese soldiers, accustomed to kowtowing to their superiors back home, now lauding it over their “inferiors” in South East Asia. Lower economic level British soldiers,, men previously accustomed to “Yes, Sir! Yes Sir!”  now supervising Colonials. American soldiers at Guantanamo. All guilty of petty tyranies. I recently encountered petty tyrants much closer to home. 
  • I live in a New York co-op. All co-ops have Boards of Directors many of whom, once elected, fail to communicate with their shareholders and often make controversial decisions on matters where the vast majority of their co-op members disagree. Opening these subjects to democratic discussions is too messy and too slow. “Nothing would ever be accomplished.”
  • To make matters worse, the Boards usually appoint a real estate management company to run things, and some send to your building one of their representatives as a resident manager. We have one in my building, a lady with little knowledge and no heart. Still, her word is God. Try to disagree, and all you get is “I’m just doing my job.” Similar to what we heard from Nazi officers at Auschwitz.
  • My wife and I recently decided to get rid of our old kitchen cabinets and install a new modern kitchen. We applied to management for a renovation permit and were given a ten page questionnaire and list of rules. One rule was that our contractor provide an insurance policy and provide the licences of his electrician and plumber. Fair enough. Once this was supplied, however, we were told that we also needed the insurance policies of the plumber and electrician. [Totally unnecessary, since they work for the contractor and are covered by his insurance.] But don’t try logic with this petty tyrant. “I won’t argue with you. I am just doing my job.” So, we caved in. More time was wasted getting these, and our work crew were told to come another day.
  • Incidentally, I have insurance on my apartment, which includes  $600,000.00 in liability insurance. In addition, I have a five million dollar umbrella policy. How much protection does the building need? Do I buy three auto liability policies, just in case?
  • Still, old gimlet-eye then spotted two words in the contractor’s written documents–“contract attached.” So, we were advised that she needed the contract between us and the contractor. “Do you normally require a contract?” I asked. “No,” I was told, “but. since those terms were in the contractor’s documents, we now need your contract.” Very logical!! [Does she have a degree in law?]Under protest, we provided the contract. More delay.
  • Did that do it? No. In the contract, our contractor noted that he was removing all kitchen appliances except our washer-dryer. Apparently, washer-dryers are not allowed in our building. We never knew this. We had had ours for nearly ten years, so it should have been grandfathered. Not with our petty tyrant. “You must remove your washer-dryer, give us a notarized letter that you will never replace it and provide us with authorization to inspect your apartment. Until then, no workmen will be allowed to come to your apartment.”
  • We had already been permitted to start demolition, and our old kitchen had been ripped out, when she discovered the mention of a washer-dryer. This meant that were living in limbo, when this dictatorial demand came down.
  • Note that normally, when a forbidden item is discovered in a co-op apartment, the Board advises you in writing that it must be removed. If you refuse or do not respond, your lease may be cancelled and you may be legally evicted. Our management representative’s draconian refusal to allow our work to continue was a form of blackmail. As such, it was  illegal. The washer-dryer was in no way related to our renovation request. However, do you know how long court proceedings would take? We were left hanging high and dry. My wife was in tears all day.
  • I immediately contacted one  Board member, advised him of the situation, and pointed out that there were over 35 other apartments in the building with washer-dryers. He advised me that the Board was considering allowing washer-dryers, but I was still bound by the old rules. He could do nothing for me.
  • The next day, the Board changed its rules, after having left me and my wife with one sleepless night. Speak of cruel and unusual punishment. I believe that I was a target for retribution, since I had previously opposed the Board on another matter and forced them to have a special meeting on the subject.
  • Petty tyrants are all around us.                          
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