A towel, huh?

Last time it happened, I didn’t know what was going on. I opened the door to a Japanese man I’d never seen before, wearing work-clothes and an apologetic smile. He offered me a cute little towel and muttered something in Japanese with a lot of sumimasems (sorrys) sprinkled in. I happily took the towel, a little bewildered, smiled kindly, and let him go on his way. Why was this guy giving me a towel?

It didn’t take long to figure it out. This man was part of a work crew hired to completely tear down the house next door. The towel was an advance peace offering. For the next 6 weeks, banging, clanging, and crashing construction sounds invaded through every orifice of our home, both preventing and interrupting naptimes, and just generally disturbing the peace and quiet of our home. 6 weeks. That’s a long time. It made me crazy, and there were actually a few times that I very irrationally considered asking them not to be so loud during naptime. I can just imagine the laughter that might have inspired. This was several years ago, by the way, when I was pregnant with Ben, when Adam and Claire were both very little.

Oh, but it’s all coming back to me now. Yesterday, a similarly attired man (same workclothes, same sumimasem smile, and tiny towel in hand) appeared on my doorstep. Our neighbors on the other side of us are tearing down their perfectly adequate house and building a new one. GREAT. JUST GREAT. Needless to say, this little workman was not sent on his heigh ho way with quite the same smile as the gentleman a few years ago.

And all I get is this tiny little towel. I mean, if they’re really trying to appease their neighbors for enduring their ruckus for 6 weeks, I would humbly suggest to the Japanese people that they offer their neighbors something a little more substantial for this supreme inconvenience: A few hundred bucks perhaps or a mini-vacation package or a few pairs of Bose sound-blocking headphones? But a towel? What in the world? And a very, very small towel. What am I supposed to do with this thing?

The very noisy fun has already started next door.

About cashclan

Lisa is a grateful, born-again follower of Jesus Christ who has spent her adult life on the Gospel in several global contexts. She is the wife of one wonderful, jungle-gym of a man, who is to her the single most ravishing piece of flesh on planet earth (stolen good-heartedly from Christine Caine). She is a dedicated home educator to their four beautiful children, ages 6 to 12, whom she would be happy to gush over any time. She is an avid reader and a storyteller, an aspiring writer, a missionary to the nations and a singer of His praises, a loyal friend, an obsessive-compulsive Googler, and comedienne extraordinaire on her best days. She would also like to think that she is a loyal and loving, truth-telling friend.
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8 Responses to A towel, huh?

  1. Margo says:

    Oh girl, I am so sorry to hear that. How frustrating and what a totally weird custom! I wonder the history of “giving a towel” Do you think it will last 6 weeks again??? When is your little one due? I can’t remember. Hang in there!

  2. Teri says:

    Maybe it’s for cleaning your house from all of the dust and dirt that accumulates with construction. Just tell them you need a maid instead! 🙂

    Are there any rooms in the hotel on base you can move into?! 🙂 If I were you, I’d be tempted. But, that would be expensive.

  3. Kevin says:

    What would happen if you did not accept the towel? Would they cease to forward with the demolition?

  4. Hannah says:

    Ugh…I know that noise all to well. And we never got a towel!! Probably would’ve been a little too costly to distribute them to an entire apt. complex.

  5. Grandma & Grandpa $ says:

    It’s not a towel; it’s a sheet of earplugs… You just need to cut it up and stick it in your ears!

  6. Judy says:


    How funny, I remember my mother in law telling me when you move in Belgium you are supposed to take a bottle of wine to the neighbors for the inconvenience of the moving truck in the road. At least a bottle of wine takes the edge off…

    Blessings to you all!

  7. Sarah De Sousa Roque says:

    That is sooo Japanese. And just a little bit hilarious!!!!!!! I’ve never heard of them doing that. I remember them making all that noise the last time, just before we left. I had no idea then how noise can disrupt a child’s sleep. I get annoyed when the guy next door whipper snipper’s during Harry’s sleep time and that’s only half an hour. Will be thinking of you.

  8. Brooke says:

    Well, duh, the towel is for you to take a nice relaxing bath while they’re doing construction. LOL (Funny mental image!)

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