The True Believers Among Us

Posted on April 20, 2013


A True Believer is someone who is deeply, sometimes fanatically devoted to a cause, organization, or person.

I live among true believers – they’re my co-op neighbors.

Our housing association does not pay any vendor for maintenance services. Instead, to save money, we each have assigned chores. More than that, we have a monthly work day (Saturday) for big jobs. Everybody chooses a particular job and works on that for the day (9am-4pm). It’s not only about saving money, my neighbors enjoy the social aspect of working together and the satisfaction that comes with manual labor.                                                                                      

But, it’s still more than that.

My neighbors are serious environmentalists. I’d say “radical” but that word has become a cliché. So, I’d just call them true believers.

Other than my wife, I’m the youngest member of the co-op. As such, I like to do the difficult, heavy-lifting  jobs.  Last Saturday, that meant drilling two holes through a six-inch concrete wall about two inches above dirt level. With a drill gun not fully up for the task.

I had to get water twice during the drilling. There was only one pump operating at the time, located a few feet from a walking path. The second time I got water from the pump, one of my neighbors scolded me.

“Every time you get water from there, you trample the undergrowth!”

Yes, but don’t you have better things to do?

She was right. As I pumped the water my boots were standing on some….vines? Ivy? small shrubs?

“I’m sorry, I’ll be more careful next time,” I said. It was true, I was careless. The health of the shrubs obviously meant a lot to her but damaging the undergrowth? It’s not like Seattle is some wind-swept desert location ala Outer Mongolia. Undergrowth? If you leave anything outside, moss will grow on it. Quickly.

I also thought it telling that she would snap at me considering the job I was doing. I was on my side, in the mud, drilling holes. It was dusty and loud. The holes were for….an electrical rain water catch basin that will provide our toilets with recycled water!

I thought my grunt work would’ve shielded me from criticism. After all, recycled toilet water is hugely important! But no, she (and the rest of my neighbors) are not swayed by circumstances. The ends do not justify the means – trampling on undergrowth is wrong….always! No matter who does the trampling.

Pick your cause

When I found out why I was doing the drilling, I laughed. Who has the time to put this much effort into something with so little return? The federal government will not even reimburse us for making this improvement. But, I wouldn’t voice this objection. I’d be overruled. For true believers, time and money serve the cause. We all have causes.

Posted in: politics, Seattle, work