Monday, May 23, 2011

Japan Standard Time

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.


Chris said...

"Why are no other residents complaining? I understand the hesitation to complain of some Japanese people,"

There is an apartment building close by and as is usual some new peeps moved in around March/April. 2 weeks ago i wake up to hear some people chatting away in the apartments parking in a very quiet neighborhood. I put my underwear on and grabbed my brass knuckles to confront 3 guys.

It coulda been 10 but I was raged so it didn't matter..

I said
"I'm fuckin sleepin yo!"

They all glanced at my right hand,muttered an apology and the car immediately sped off.

Problem me...again. These asshole neighbors despise me but they sleep in peace because of me.

I felt angry just reading your musta been absolutely outta your mind pissed...I feel ya :)

Sarahf said...

That would have driven me nuts too. I get irritated when my roommates talk in the next room when I'm trying to get to sleep. And I stay in bed and silently rage then too.

RMilner said...

You should have just thrown up the window and screamed "URUSEEEEEEEEE"

kathrynoh said...

OMG I need to know the answer to this dilemma. The old bastard across the street from me is having construction work done at his house (like a full renovation) and they start around 8am. Luckily they finish early. If it was until 11pm every night, I'd kill someone.

I've tried to find out if there are any laws about this type of thing but no one seems to know.

Green-Eyed Geisha said...

Chris: Glad you didn't end up using those knuckles (I'm assuming that was not a metaphor). I was livid and really regret not saying anything about it. Your neighbours must be silently appreciative :)

Sarahf: I'm not usually bothered by sounds at night but this was like they were working in my bedroom! I've heard of some good ear plugs if you ever need a recco...

RMilner: How I wish I had! I need to learn to stop getting angry when it's inappropriate and start being assertive when the situation actually calls for it.

Kathryn: I hate to bring bad news but I don't think there's much you can do about it. If they are doing in Sat/Sun you might be able to make a case for starting at 9 but these people show no mercy:( In my hood it's the fucking used electronic hawkers on the weekends...once the beau peeped out the window and got the guy's # from the truck, called him, and screeched urusaaaaaiiiii down the line :) You could try making some anonymous calls to the construction site?!

jskoolisin said...

Wow, I feel your pain! I would have done the same thing to be honest, because I wouldn't have known who to complain to . I think you're right that going out there wouldn't have done much. I'm assuming there was some kind of schedule they had to keep and that's why they went so late that night.

Still, yeah wow I would've been going nuts just like you.

Rebecca said...

I'm actually a big fan of construction workers working during the night rather than the day, so as not to cause traffic congestion.

That said, construction work in residential neighborhoods really needs to consider whether it is better to inconvenience the residents during the day or keep them up all night.

If you complain, they very well might realize what is happening and leave earlier. I know it really sucks to confront people sometimes though. Especially if you are sitting there telling yourself 'they are almost done... not worth saying anything, they are probably just about to finish... almost done'. I know the feeling! =P

Green-Eyed Geisha said...

jskoolisin: Exactly. I probably would have gotten a lot of moshi wake nais and then they would start up the jackhammering again...not sure if that would have made me madder or not :)

Rebecca: If I was in a place where I drove, I would probably agree...and only if it wasn't residential construction. Another reason I was hesitant is that I am kind of conspicuous in these parts, so I would have to keep running into the roadworkers after that incident and they would forever know me as the foreign girl with a bad case of the cray cray!!

Rydangel said...

i feel your pain. after the may tornadoes hit atlanta and the rest of the southeastern united states, i had a neighbor's tree fall on my house, completely crushing the deck,a bit of the roof and chimney. we only had the contractors finish up repairs 2 days ago. the contractor was very nice, but why did he and his men have to show up every day at 7am even on the weekends. this may not be unreasonable for some, but i work the night shift and am just getting to bed at that time. i didn't mind during the week, but weekends when i get to sleep normally, had me questioning whether we really needed a new roof and couldn't we just throw a tarp over the hole. but what i really hate is that there is a power transformer at the foot of my front yard and every time it blows i end up with my front yard torn up from the repair trucks parking in my yard. in the summer when everyone has their air conditioner going full blast, this is a monthly occurrence.

Green-Eyed Geisha said...

Rydangel: Glad to hear you are OK down/over there. I'm surprised there were no noise complaints on the weekends. 7am! Mother nature is having a particularly cruel year this year.