People sometimes talk about island time and select cultures even have self-deprecating jokes about their inability to keep time. While Japan doesn't have the chillaxed attitude of other countries when it comes to time-keeping - trains are reliable to the minute and people routinely show up before the appointed time - there is a mysterious lack of regard for the timing of certain activities. Namely activities that disrupt my precious sleep. I hope you will forgive me for skipping over those charming white-gloved (literally) politicians who drive around with loud speakers blaring around election time, because while I despise them and their queenly waves, they don't drive around at 2 o'clock in the morning. Construction work, however, is not so courteous.
A short while ago we received a notice that there was going to be some construction work on the water pipes under our street lasting a week between the hours of 8 and 11 p.m. I understand that evening hours were chosen to minimize imposition on residents but isn't 11 at night a tad late to be doing construction work in a semi-residential area? The answer is yes, yes it is. I really wasn't too bothered about the whole thing other than having to remember to shower outside these hours, but if I was a good child-bearing whitie (in the eyes of the beau's mother and family), you can rest assured there would have been some severe raining down of the fiery rage if I had small children that could be woken up. But I'm not and I don't so let's press on.
Although our apartment faces the street, on the first night of construction when I pulled back the curtain, I was shocked to find myself blinded by lights turned up to eleven, almost reminiscent of a filming location. I could have tricked myself into believing it was daytime outside it was so bright. And the noise. Those unforgiving jack hammers sounded as if they were going to come through the window; being on a high enough floor was the only thing to convince me they wouldn't. The construction was so up in my building's face that Mavis was practically held hostage and extricating her from our bike garage involved a rearrangement of part of the construction site. And yet, this I can abide.
All of this pales in comparison to the sheer hell I experienced several weeknights later when even god doesn't know why, the construction did not stop at what I thought was the appointed time. I was hoping to crawl into bed by around midnight but the jackhammering was still going on at five past. I pulled back the curtains. Blinded. They can't be much longer I thought, they must be putting the finishing touches on those pipes. I read for a while as the clock crept towards 1 and those electric tools were still going strong. I began to second guess my clock, thinking that perhaps it was ticking forward at warp speed, contriving to make me believe it was later than it actually was.
I am pretty exhausted by 1 and knowing I have to be up early the next morning doesn't improve my mood. I figure I am so tired I should be able to fall asleep despite the light and noise fiesta extravaganza going on directly below my window. I'm in bed now and it sounds like things are quieting down. I'm starting to drift off when some sadistic motherfucker decides he missed a spot with the jackhammer. I am starting to freak out now. It's between 2 and 3 o'clock in the morning and I have a raging construction site on the other side of a sheet of glass. How is this happening? Why are no other residents complaining? I understand the hesitation to complain of some Japanese people, but surely loud construction work (jackhammers people!) is enough to push someone's buttons. It was sure pushing mine. And yet I did nothing. There I was kicking up a mess with my sheets and so tired I was wide awake, plotting the demise of the construction workers below (yes, I realize it's not their fault).
I texted the beau because he was the only person I knew who would be awake at that hour and frankly, I needed some reassurance that I was awake and not nightmaring this hellish situation. He assured me it was real. I resisted the urge to tell him to hurry home so he could not only witness the situation with his own eyes but tear into the construction workers for me. It got to the point where I had four hours until I had to be up (3 a.m. now) and I was so fucked off and in disbelief that I had heavy duty machinery clanging in my ears that I started talking to myself. Yelling really. There was also some muttering and furious shaking of the head. I spewed about what kind of fucking derelict place is this where construction can happen at 3 in the morning and why the fuck are there no neighbors complaining about it and how in hell did I end up living somewhere that the law allows your ears to be assaulted at all hours AND on weekends and no one does anything about it. Damn you Tokyo!!!
Things spiraled quickly out of control. And yet I did nothing. Instead I crouched on the corner of my bed like a mad woman, wiping the sweat from my lip and panting as I glared out the window at the improbable scene below. Around 3:30 the noise stopped and the lights were flipped out, the only evidence of the crime was newly packed asphalt.
I wanted to go outside so badly, I did, but having to put on a bra and some vaguely sensible clothes topped my desire to unleash the rage. Plus, it's not as if they would have immediately shut down the site at the sight of my crazy ass. I'm justifying not going down really, because I regret that I didn't, effective or not. At least if I had gone down I could have confirmed that what I was seeing was not what I now think may have been a figment of my imagination.