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.