A New World
We are living in uncertain times, and it is safe to say that the past few weeks have taken all of us on an unprecedented journey. It feels as though we went to sleep in one world, and woke up in one that is very, very different. Residents of most states are under strict orders to stay at home in order to “flatten the curve” and slow the spread of the COVID-19. Many of our established routines and procedures have been altered and called into question. It feels almost as though the rules to this new world are being written in this moment, right before our eyes. At a time when we are being asked to stay at home, what happens to the rules that surround our homes?
Multiple news outlets, including iHeartRadio and Newsweek recently published an article, originally presented by News4Jax, a local Jacksonville, Florida news agency, chronicling a heated dispute between a Florida nurse and her homeowners association. Sarah Lynch is a clinical nurse coordinator, working for a hospital system in Jacksonville. Due to her line of work, and the increased likelihood of her exposure to the virus, Lynch and her husband made the decision to preemptively move their RV out of storage and park it in their driveway. While Lynch works primarily from her home, given the strain on the medical community and its resources, Lynch believed that she would inevitably be asked to work within the hospital itself, increasing the chance that she would be exposed to and, potentially, infected by the virus. Lynch planned to use the RV to isolate herself, in the event that she became infected, so that she could remain nearby, but safely isolated from her family, including her daughter who has special needs. Shortly after the RV had been parked, Lynch received a note from her HOA, Magnolia Point Golf and Country Club homeowners association, demanding that the family remove the vehicle immediately. The edict went on to state that, if the RV remained parked in the Lynch’s driveway, they would be subject to a fine of 100 dollars a day, up to 1,000 dollars. Given the current state of the world, Lynch stated that she believed the HOA would be a bit more understanding of her situation, "We figured the HOA would probably be a little bit more lenient as the community is all pulling together." However, rather than engage in a fight, amidst a much larger battle Lynch will be fighting, she decided to head the warning, and put her RV back into storage.
When this story first began to gain traction with both local and then national news carriers, there had been no official comment made by the HOA or any of its members. Readers and viewers of the story were enraged at the actions taken by the HOA, and demanded answers. It took a few days before the opposing side of the story was made available. In an email sent to News4Jax, the president of the HOA, Larry Hanline, communicated that he stood by the board’s decision to not allow the RV to be parked in the Lynch driveway, given the knowledge that he, and the board of directors had at the time the decision was made. Hanline stated that there had been well-established, long standing guidelines regarding recreational vehicles in the association's documents. According to Hanline, residents are to register their RVs at the communities’ gate upon entry, where they would receive a 48-hour pass, or an extension if there was a need for the vehicle to be parked for longer. Because the Lynch family had not done this, they received the notice on their RV. In the eyes of the HOA and the board, they were simply following the agreed-upon rules. Hanline went on to say that if Lynch, or any member of her family did become infected and needed to self quarantine, that they would, “support them in the safest way possible, including parking their RV in the driveway.”
So who is Right?
So what is the moral of the story? What great insight can one glean from this? Perhaps it is the same lesson that we can, as people, take away from this larger experience. We are living through and bearing witness to a pivotal moment in world history. We must acknowledge that we are all attempting to navigate through uncharted waters, we are finding ourselves in a place where we have no experience, and no compass, surrounded by fear and uncertainty. In times like these, people will employ different strategies to help them find some sense of control or peace. Some will attempt to envision the possible outcomes and set forth a plan, preemptively (like creating a space to keep themselves and their family safe), to feel as though they will be able to handle the villain when it approaches. Others may attempt to hold on to the structure and regulations that they have become accustomed to (the strict adherence to rules), in an attempt to create a sense of normalcy and comfort in a place that feels lacking in both. However, while we may feel as though we cannot control our future, there is one thing that we can always control and that is our response to others in times of crisis, and the compassion that we show while in the face of adversity. This is not the time to allow trivial disputes to divide us. Rather, this is a time to gain perspective. This must be the time that we come together (figuratively, of course). We must not make villains of each other, we have a far greater adversary to face, and we must do it while supporting each other because, as we have been hearing a lot as of late, we are all in this together.
Galluccio, Bill. “HOA Threatens To Fine Nurse For Having 'Quarantine RV' In Her Driveway.” Iheart.com, 2 Apr. 2020, www.iheart.com/content/2020-04-02-hoa-threatens-to-fine-nurse-for-having-quarantine-rv-in-her-driveway/.
Micolucci, Vic. “HOA Responds to Clay County Nurse’s ‘Quarantine RV’ Debate.” News4Jax, 1 Apr. 2020, www.news4jax.com/news/local/2020/04/02/hoa-responds-to-clay-county-nurses-quarantine-rv-debate/.
Rodriguez, Eddy. “HOA Threatens Nurse with $1,000 in fines for Parking 'Quarantine” RV in her Driveway.” Newsweek.com, 1 Apr. 2020, www.newsweek.com/hoa-threatens-nurse-1000-fines-parking-quarantine-rv-her-driveway-1495630.