So tonight was our umpteenth meeting of the flat-owners-who-are-oh-so-unhappy. Some useful meeting that was.
Upshot, upshot! I hear you clamour with the fidgeting that rightfully belongs in this kind of situation. Well, let me put it quite bluntly and proudly, we stood our ground and quite adamantly decided that, although it is the managing agency's fault that the building is falling to pieces, we are in fact going to pay for everything anyway. We will however make the adequate and necessary tutting noises when sending the checks in, just so somebody on the street or in the post-office knows that we're very disapproving of said agency's workshy attitude. Because that's the kind of people we are: proud, adamant, and disapproving. And let it be known.
So. Now that this earth-shattering conclusion has been duly laid to paper, let's get to the real findings this meeting has enabled me to come up with. First - and foremost really - there are in fact two em-ing and er-ing neighbours. The famous one, and another woman, who, to her credit?, only does it when she's addressing more than one person at the same time, or when she's decided to speak because it was important that her voice be heard, but hasn't, before piping up, found out what exactly it was that she was going to say.
Second - and foremost also, on second thoughts - it was a study in psychological leadership. And the results are this (I'm not sure yet whether there are several results or not, hence the cunning use of both singular and plural). Apparently, when you want to have the upper hand in a heated discussion, be it about paying extortionate fees or pregnancy, the thing to do is to raise your voice. Preferably if you don't know what it is exactly you're going to say, or if your vocabulary is comprised of a ginormous amount of er's and em's. Or both. Both works fine too. And if another lady speaks quite loudly too, not because she wants to be heard, but simply due to the fact that her parents (or brother - brothers can be extremely useful like that) never told her to turn it down a little, or maybe she's just a little deaf in one ear and I'm being unfair - in any case, get three girls to speak louder and louder at the same time, and well, it doesn't get much better than that, if you ask me!
Ah yes. Other finding. If you were absent from a previous meeting, but want to retain a certain competitive advantage, keep using the loud voice and start resorting to fallacious arguments that are bound to get discarded or disproved by those people who did, in fact, waste a previous evening. Then (and that's when I admitted defeat in advance for all future shows of bad faith that I may have been tempted to try, because there is no way I could have ever won), in one spectacular reversal, go "yes! exactly! that's exactly what I'm saying!". You haven't lost face and may now go on to more essential suggestions and advice.
Now, in case you're wondering if I may have been one of the loud-speakers, er-ers and em-ers or unbelievably skillful orators, I was busy stuffing my face with sweets. For two reasons. First, I needed the sugary comfort, and second, it so happens that, by sticking my jaws together, gummy bears tend to prevent me from blurting out things that I'm bound to regret during endless rides up elevators that are way too cramped for small talk.
Yes, you may also say it's cowardice.