Ninety Percent Of Success

July 2, 2011 by cynick | Posted in politics

.. is just showing up.

At least that’s what Woody Allen once said. Or maybe it was Alvy Singer.

Either way, the other night I put the theory to the test. The annual election for my building association’s board was nigh, and this time, I thought I’d try harder to get elected.

For years, I’ve been approached by various neighbors to serve on the board, but it was only last year that I first allowed myself to be nominated and put on the ballot. Unfortunately, I – perhaps unconsciously – mixed up the date of the election, and was tooling down some dirt road in Iowa on my way back from Nebraska when the voting took place. Oops.

It were, as they say, an ignominious defeat.

This year, two seats were becoming vacant. An hour before the meeting, I received a note from one of the retiring board members, asking me to run. Apparently, there was a dearth of nominees.

Off I went to the meeting. The ballots contained a single name, that of one of the more popular people in the building, so, at that moment, it seemed like if I really wanted to pull the trigger, I could saddle myself with a thankless job consisting of tedious meetings, phone calls, and the taking of verbal abuse.

The aforementioned board member came in, and I shrugged toward her and said, “Okay, I’ll bite!”

The meeting was called to order. A quorum was established.

“Are there any nominations from the floor?” “Why, yes,” said the new guy who had recently purchased a unit on the first floor, “I nominate myself!”

Uh oh

In due course, I was nominated as well. A happy murmur went through the crowd, probably a combination of the people who had tried to get me to do this in the past, and another group who were relieved that they wouldn’t have to do it themselves. But moreover, it was going to be a real election, instead of a sham.

I felt a hand on my shoulder; the woman behind me thanked me for running. I turned around and told her, “Well, everybody has the right to be a sucker once!”

Then it was speech time. The new guy made a fairly impassioned speech about wanting power, and seeing board membership as a vehicle to meet people. Knowing that that might have sounded a tad unappealing to the electorate, however, he threw in a statement that his wealth of experience in the legal world would be of great value in dealing with the various government entities the association encounters on a regular basis.

“Capitol!” I thought. “You’ve got my vote!”

The popular guy’s speech was much more humble, and more along the lines of considering it an honor to serve our community and so on. It seemed a bit rehearsed and polished, but at least he didn’t pull out a lorgnette and a piece of parchment.

I opened my speech with, “Oh, I didn’t know I’d have to make a speech!”, and then I delivered a few scattershot sentences about how I’m one of the original owners, and that I would be pleased to apply my wealth of experience in the technology world to any problems that might come before the board, blah, blah, blah. I jest slightly, but I don’t think it was too bad a speech.

I withheld a remark about infusing the board with a youthful vigor, though.

The vote was taken. I thought about voting completely against myself, but that would have been downright silly!

Ooo, the tension! It was unbearable! And then, after ballot counting (and one would hope, no ballot stuffing), it was announced that New Guy and Popular Guy would be our new board members.

Aw, drat.

Maybe I had instead proved a sort of converse to the posited theory: Ten Percent of Failure is Showing Up And Not Caring Quite Enough