The Swindlers

Trampa is another great word in Spanish. It means fraud, snare, to cheat, entrap, swindle. It’s great for describing the administration of my apartment building back in Buenos Aires, as evident in my prior post, Big Ass Mess.

I went back for a second assembly of homeowners after we voted to oust them for negligence, overcharging and shady business practices. For skimming off the top more than we could stand for.

The swindlers called the meeting this time for a vote on their unwavering decision to resign. I went, happy that justice was winning. Bye, bye, crooks.

We gathered again in the foyer and waited. It was hot and sweaty. We talked and waited. And waited. Forty-five minutes went by and the administration still hadn’t shown, nor their cohorts – our fellow homeowners that support them. What chicken-shits, I thought. What cowards.

Maybe not.

“They just want to disappear with our money,” said a fellow homeowner. The administration has our funds for the upkeep of the building and paying bills and the doorman’s salary.

This led to a discussion on what they could be trying to do, what they could be trying to pull.

“How should I know,” one of us said. “You can’t think like a crook if you’re not a crook.”

At one point, a man aligned with the administration came. He – a lawyer that offers his services to the administration, at inflated prices, so I am told – said they’d called him to say they weren’t coming. He listened to us argue about how to react. He heard our strategy and left. No doubt to report his observations to the administration. Their emissary.

Then another in league with the enemy walked through our congregation. It was the mother of the heavy-built ruffian who tried to break up the previous meeting. She walked through, looking at none of us. And out the door.

“Well, I’ll be,” one of us said.

“That figures,” another said. “She’s already made her fortune out of us. So what does she care?”

After an hour or so, we came up with a plan to not accept the resignation and keep the administrators in place for another month to finish business, clean up the books and transfer all records to a new management company.

Will they?

That’s hard to say. Like my neighbor said, you can’t think like a crook if you’re not. It might be better to think about moving, before another trampa.

Big Ass Mess

Despelote is s great word in Spanish. It means chaos or, for some, a great laugh. For me, it perfectly describes the administration of my apartment building in Buenos Aires. A big ass mess. Another good word for them is crooked.

I went back for a meeting of apartment owners, leaving behind the pine forest for a few days. We met to discuss the administration’s decision (in cohesion with a select band of apartment owners, no doubt taking a cut somehow or other) to hire a security company to keep an eye on us, protect us. Armed rent-a-cops soon were sat on their big or puny asses in the entrance hall all night, fighting sleep and clocking our comings and goings. I’d always felt safe in the building. Not now with the rent-a-cops and an administration stinking of negligence, wrongdoing and crookedness.

I arrived to the meeting fuming, out to kill. It costs me to rent the cops. All because they – the administrators and their cohorts – say we need them. No way! We gathered in the entrance hall, about 35 of us – a record turnout, so I was told. The administrators came with their own lawyer, hired on our dime. The nerve! An elderly neighbor saw me fidgeting as the meeting got going. I was getting wrapped up in it, headstrong. Arguments broke out; people had their say and vented their frustrations with the administration. The elderly neighbor tugged my shirtsleeve and said, “It doesn’t pay to get worked up. Play it cool, son. Take my word for it.” Two minutes later he was shouting out, arms flailing, fingers pointing at the administration.

Then the son of one of the pro-security guard neighbors (that is, the enemy) came down. He stood in the middle of the proceedings, with a tank top exposing his muscles, arms crossed tightly, eyes beaming at us. Shit! I thought. They’ve brought him in to rough us up, stare us down and stir shit up. It makes you want to shout. Your money is at stake, and justice. So you do. But you’re drowned out. There are shouts and clamoring. Blood boils. But you’re in the majority and the ruffian is expelled – he has no reason to be here. It takes three men to push him out the front door, women screaming. The ruffian pushes back. A man almost falls over. The ruffian only gives up after his mother (the enemy) gives him the nod to back down.

Then a reasonable man stands up and beseeches for calm. Order returns – for two minutes. Then the shouting escalates again, arms waving, fingers pointing at the administration and their lawyer.

I lost track after a while – and steam. The situation came to a vote and we won. The majority voted against the administration and its cohorts. Justice reigned. In the end an elderly woman said to me, “We’d better be careful and watch our backs. There’s no telling what they’ll do next.” The ruffian was still out front, in the street. I took the elevator upstairs and locked the door.


We’re going to outer space. My five-year-old daughter has figured out how. The family has to gather upstairs, all of us. The big dog and the pesky cat, too. And the baby. Here’s what we have to do. We have to stand together and tilt our heads back – all of us – and start blowing, very hard and again and again and again. Up into the rafters. Then the house will rise off the ground and soar into outer space.

“What are we going to do when we get there?” I ask.

“Fly around, silly,” she says. “And then we’ll go to America and visit your mummy.”