I can’t believe it.
Here we are; it’s the 18th of December. It is bitter cold out there.
And still they come.
The men who do the yards.
My immediate neighbor and I are the only two on the block who do not use the services of a weekly “yard team” – a gang of men, trucks and machines who arrive promptly, every Friday morning at 8 AM, to begin mowing lawns, blowing leaves making such an unholy racket that -while I am sure they are very good sorts of men- I have come to hate them like poison.
Then begin in March, and I don’t mind it; by March I am usually desperate to know winter is almost gone, so the noise holds promise. Through the spring, who cares if there is a little noise? Things are growing! In summer, too, no problem.
By autumn, though, particularly if one has had a bad night’s sleep, the wall-shaking rumble begins to get on the nerves, and once they haul out the leaf blowers (now there is one piece of machinery I’d love to see the EPA outlaw) and go from house to house, stirring up dust and subjecting those of us who are at home working or trying to enjoy retirement, to an incessant high-pitched and droning wwwhhhhrrrrrrr that, after a while, makes one want to rip off the shirt, put a knife between the teeth and go find someone to kill.
Did I mention that, because her house is smack-dab in the center of all the paying work, they let the trucks and machinery rumble right outside my neighbor’s house and -since this is not what you’d call an “executive” neighborhood, that means it’s not far from my house, my bedroom?
Last August, this neighbor -who works outside the home and had never heard the Friday Racket before- sprained a leg and took some time off. One evening, she and I were chatting on her porch when another neighbor -a fellow meticulous-unto-anal-retentiveness about his yard, who must hate living next to my slap-dash landscaping- came home from work at and, within minutes, began his nightly ritual. He hauled out his leaf blower and commenced blowing the perimeter of his home, from foundation to boundary, so that not a leaf, twig or errant pebble was where he had deemed it ought not be.
This takes hours and has ended any hope we have of ever eating our supper al fresco while this man lives. We have seen him go out after a rain shower and blow wet things. I have seen him take his leaf blower up to the roof. I suspect the man does not like talking to his wife.
My chat-partner winced and said, “wow, that’s really annoying.”
“Every. Single. Night,” I said. “You usually miss it, because you get home after the serenade has ended.”
“I can’t believe the noise pollution on this block,” she continued, pointing out all the unjoyful sounds she had encountered during her convalescence.
“Wait until Friday,” I muttered.
Although it is not her fault -as I said, with only two exceptions, the whole block seems to use this team- somewhere in the recesses of my miserable heart I do quite unfairly find myself blaming her for the whole thing. She was the first to hire this crew, and they park outside her house, after all.
Of course, on the Friday when she was home to hear them – a clear, gorgeous day – the Yard Team managed to do their stuff in record time, and it seemed pretty painless to her. Then again, even a bad soprano is endurable if you only have to hear her sing one piece. Over the course of the year, I get the whole concert.
This morning’s landscaping may have been their big finish. The crew arrived and parked at 8 AM, as usual, and my husband -who is taking a day off- found himself roused from slumber. “What is that?” he asked. “It sounds like World War III!”
There was an extra truck this time, a big one, with some kind of vacuum thing attached to it. Three hours (!) of non-stop rumbling, whrrrring, and grinding that made our room vibrate. It was like listening to the 1812 Overture being played, endlessly, on yard-and-wind machines. And the big finish: the loudest vacuum in the world sucking up things that went “bang!” while the truck itself ran, and ran, and ran.
I’d love to know the carbon-footprint of this groundscrew.
So, they chased us out of bed, when we really wanted to sleep in. Finally, at 10:30 they were finished. We have been sipping coffee with rather shell-shocked expressions on our faces.
“You’ve listened to this from March to December,” my husband sympathized.
“It’s horrible,” I agreed. We all know I like my silence.
My husband grinned. “We must get even.”
It seems he is enamored of those Christmas-lights-with-synchronized-loud-music kits. “Just think, we could play “Christmas in Sarajevo”, and “Do They Know It’s Christmas” and Andy Williams singing “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” over and over, and over again, just like the radio!”
“And some lung-screamer, doing ‘O Holy Night!’” I enthused. “Or maybe one bombastic version of it, after another!”
For a few happy minutes, we were channeling K-K-K-Ken in A Fish Called Wanda, pumping up a steam roller full of “RE-RE-REVENGE!”
No, we won’t do it. Spite is not our way, and I couldn’t bear the din, besides. But for today, this is the delicious fantasy I am carrying in my poor, aurally-abused self: