The pen is mighty, but an implication is mightier


I know not to do it. You know not to do it. Heck, everyone knows not to do it. I’m counting my chickens.  And taking a victory lap. Will I jinx it? Can I snatch defeat from the jaws of victory? Follow along and find out why I say the pen is mighty, but an implication is mightier.

The story is relatively short, but it needs a bit of preface. So, let’s hop into the Wayback machine and head to South Florida of times past.

During my youth, South Florida was a wilderness. The environment still outmatched the population. There were highrises, sure, but those were all along the beach. Most of the rest of us lived in quiet residential homes.

Just homes. Decades of popularity and population growth led to super-fast construction and “developments” going up. These were groups of homes with pretentious names as if they were their own little cut-out of society.

Those little cut-outs needed their independence, birthing one of the most awful creations in the existence of mankind since we first crawled from the primordial soup.

Homeowner’s Associations (HOA).

Woe be the day these were first imagined. We might as well have square wheels .

Okay, we’ve set the stage, so let’s bring our quick journey back to the present. Or the near present.

Roughly a dozen years ago, a particularly spiteful lass came to visit us from the Gulf. She was quite a surprise, since most of our visitors come in the other door.

The too-friendly tree

When Wilma left, there was considerable damage in my area, including much on my block. We basically had a block purchase for repairing all the roofs in our subsection. In particular, my and my neighbor’s home took a beating from a big tree behind us.

You can read of our travails with the tree in the post to the right. Which concluded with a visit from another intemperate lady, visiting from the opposite direction.

After yet more expensive repairs caused by the tree, I resolved to get rid of the thing once and for all. This required asking “permission” from the HOA.

This is the story of that quest.

September 14, 2017 – first contact via email is made with the property management company detailing the damage and previous costs created by the tree

September 18, 2017 – a second contact via email is made with the HOA to advise them of the request to remove the tree

Nobody likes a meanie

October 3, 2017 – after a discussion with clean-up crews in the area, another contact is made with the property management company, at which time I inform them that I want to discuss this courteously, despite my neighbor’s suggestion to amp up the tone. For more on the reason why, see the adjacent link.

October 17, 2017 – have a discussion on the phone with the property management contact. He confirms that the clean-up crew agrees with my assessment that the tree is too close to the homes and promises to bring it up at the October board meeting for s resolution in November.

November 20, 2017 – receive the final repair bill for the roof. $3,400. Love that tree.

November 30, 2017 – after allowing time for the holiday, follow-up email contact with property management company. No response to emails or phone calls other than the October conversation.

January 9, 2018 – again allowing time for the holidays, I send my “final” polite email to the property manager, this time addressed like a regular letter. The body of the email is at the end of the post.  In it, I suggest I have run out of politeness and felt insulted by the lack of response. (Still no replies since September).

January 12, 2018 – receive my first-ever email reply:

“Your request to have the Black Olive tree in the rear of your residence removed,  has been presented to the Timberwalk ll Board of Directors. They appear to have received your request favorably and will have an answer to you, via our office, by the end of this month.”

February 12, 2018 – send follow-up email about the tree. Receive a response the same day (!):

“The Board will remove the tree. This tree and some others will be done as soon as the new officers of the Board complete their inspection tour before the 2nd week of March.” (loquacious, ain’t they?)

Four months and no responses to my inquiries. Only when I sent the below email, the one with more “edge”, did they finally respond.

The “shaking my head” is real on this. “Why’s it gotta be so hard” might be another way of putting it.

Nothing has happened yet. No victory is truly earned until that darned tree is gone. But, once again, it appears that the pen is mighty, but an implication is mightier.


I write this email with some fatalism and not a small amount of displeasure regarding the continuing open issue my neighbor and I have expressed to you about the dangerous tree behind our homes in Timberwalk II.

For some inexplicable reason, you have chosen to ignore our issue and my repeated attempts to contact you about it. I cannot fathom why you have pursued this rude and irresponsible path.

My neighbor first urged me to take a more aggressive tone. Other neighbors, with whom I’ve shared our frustration also suggested politeness was not the best choice. My family feels the same. In fact, the only person who resisted the idea of taking a hostile tone with you and the association has been me.

And you, of course, but perhaps you also feel that way. I wouldn’t know, since, outside the one time you talked on the phone with me, you have never responded or followed-up in any way.

So, here is my last attempt to settle this claim amicably. If you don’t reply to this email, I’ll assume that you, too, wish me to take a more hostile disposition towards the association.

It baffles me that you would force me into this place. I had hoped I could leave that level of unpleasantness behind me when I retired from Corporate America. I hope you have not mistaken my forbearance for lack of will. Rest assured, that is far from fact.

I will not review the issue again in this email. That would be an insulting intimation that you have forgotten about our request entirely. I will only remind you that you and your landscape professional both admitted to me that we have a legitimate case in hand.

Let me also say, to use a term that’s grown quite popular in today’s political arena, I have been keeping contemporaneous notes during all interactions since the initial and extensive damage the tree caused to both roofs. Along with the email chain dating back to September of last year, I believe we can support the urgency of this request.

Again, I have tried to be reasonable. I gave time during the winter holidays and again after the new year. I have not “raised my voice” during our email conversations nor on the single phone call we had. In return for that courtesy, we have been shown none; not even a cursory “we are still working on it” reply.

Despite that incredible lack of professionalism and just plain decency, I ask once more, politely, for a resolution to the threat created by the tree that is, by your and your landscaper’s admission, far too close to our homes. That threat does not disappear if I or my neighbor move away. It is a threat to the safety and security of property within the community and demands attention before further damage occurs.

Finally, I close with this. While it is not as polite, it is pointed: If there is ever a time, after a particularly exasperating phone call or meeting, that you wonder why so many homeowner issues must be dealt with through conflict, it would be wise to reflect on your part in creating that conflict in the first place.

Thank you for your time. In the implausible chance you do not read email, I will follow-up this note with a phone call later this week.

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