Saturday, February 12, 2011

Auditory Enemy: The Hammer

Parisian tool of choice...

When my roommate moved in last spring, we had a common enemy.  Every day around 9AM the workers out in the courtyard of our building would get to work.  This usually meant about 3-4 hours of loud, raucous, nerve-chewing noise that, as far as we were concerned, would never end.  The hammers and chisels were slowly chipping away every concieveable piece of concrete in the court yard.  CLANK.  CLANK.  CLANK.  We had our coffee together.  CLANK. CLANK.  We rushed off to work and school.  No need to sit and chat. CLANK.

The summer came and went, and with constant outdoor activities and a new job, I didn’t notice the construction as much.  The new apartment in the courtyard was almost complete and each night when I came home, the workers would be gone, fortunately.  No clanks, just a glass of wine and some pasta.  Life was good.

The roommate left just a few weeks before the construction finished.  She never slept past 9AM as far as I can remember.  Poor thing.  But I was delighted when the construction trickled off and finally stopped around fall.  There were still the occasional drill sessions or glass shatterings, but nothing long-term it seemed.  The worst was past.  November came and I was sleeping until 10AM.  Christmas came and creepily, from my fifth floor apartment, I could peer into the glass-topped roof of the newly renovated courtyard apartment.  Their Christmas tree with gold garland was standing proudly in the middle of their little home.  I only heard Christmas carols and, I thought, sleigh bells in the distance.

All was right.  I thought.

January arrives and I return from my Christmas vacation.  It seems that inspiration has struck the residents of my building.  It seems that now, the cool thing to do is renovate.  It seems that several apartments have recently been sold.  Then it came, like a swarm of locusts in my ears, feasting on my eardrums.  CLANK.  CLANK. CLANK. CLANK.

The hammering, my 9AM wake up call, is back.  But this time it’s just a few floors below me.  This way, not only do I hear every CLANK, but I feel it.  I feel the CLANK vibrations in the CLANK floor as I CLANK try to drink my coffee in the morning.  It continues.  I try to read in my apartment, I try to write, I try to be a good student.  But every morning until the afternoon it’s CLANK renovation time. CLANK.

I started going to the Pompidou library to find reprieve, fleeing my apartment as if there were some sort of infestation that no exterminator could eradicate.  I can’t enjoy just sitting at home while I know that downstairs someone is reliving the best of the Stone Age with their chisel and hammer.

CLANK CLANK CLANK
Today I peeked in and saw the work that was being done, which is actually on the ground floor.  There was a wall with chunks of concrete chiseled out of it.  It’s not at all delicate work.  The construction worker, I am convinced, was just too lazy or cheap to rent any sort of power tool that would get the job done in no time, and so the CLANK continues. 

Ignore the poor craftsmanship of the sentence and appreciate the sentiment when Wikipedia tells me, “Stone hammers are known which are dated to 2,600,000 BCE.”  That’s a long time ago.  Like, really long.  Am I being overly dramatic here?  I think, Mister Construction Worker, it’s time to step into the modern age.  I mean, come on, even I have a Twitter account now…

3 comments:

  1. i lived in the 16th on the rdc and the other side of the wall that my bed was up against was in the main entryway ... every day (except sunday) for 5 months at 8.30 am, banging would start on the other side of my wall. i would wake up, bleary-eyed, forced to begin my day... the construction workers were always gone by 9.30am. so in reality, they could've started a little later and i could've slept. mais non.

    i'm not even sure what they were doing. i think it involved the light fixture and electricity, not requiring a hammer...

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  2. I think hammer workers are some of the few people in this country dedicated to working more than 35 hours. I'm convinced. If it weren't for the noise I'd be almost proud...

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  3. 'If I Had a Hammer' must have been written for people without hammers. Because before I had a hammer, I probably thought, if I had a hammer, I'd hammer in the morning, I'd hammer in the evening, I'd hammer all over this land, if I had a hammer. Once you have a hammer, you find you don't hammer as much as you think you would.

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