Note No. 26

December 1, 2009

Pounding is forgivable during the day. It is annoying; yes but you deal with it.

Pounding at 7 in the morning, on the other hand? Por favor.

So when I roll over and open my eyes to the melodic thump, thump, thump, THWACK of someone doing demolition work next door, I know I have a problem. That is: there are guests just on the other side of the wall where I suspect said work is being carried out and there is no way they are sleeping through it.

I get out of bed and begin thinking: Do I have to do anything? Is this within my realm of duties as manager of the hotel? Am I expected to police the neighborhood as much as our own property? If I don’t do anything and the guests later complain, can I just shrug it off as being out of my control?

That question is answered as soon as I go down to the courtyard. The front gate is wide open, which I correctly deduce is from where one of the guests went out into the street to see what in tarnation is going on. Further investigation reveals that the other guest is peering over the backside of the property to see what in tarnation is going on. Both are visibly peeved.

“I’m going next door to see if they can wait,” I announce before scurrying off.

In the next-door courtyard, I stand at three possible doors, wondering which one it could be, because the pounding has stopped for a moment. I direct my speech at the one that is ajar, saying ever so quietly: “Buenos días.”

A head peers out and I recognize it as the same guy who works a few miles up the road at a convenience where I often go to get Magnum ice cream bars.

“Hello!” And my heart sinks, because I cannot remember his name and no amount of emphasis placed on the salutation will detract from that empty, empty sound of a nameless greeting.

“Hello, Margaret.” The emptiness widens.

This is no time for pleasantries, either. It is clear I am here for a reason. “I, uh, I’m looking for the noise.”

He pulls his hand into view and it’s holding a large hammer.

I nod. “It’s just that, well, the guests are still sleeping.”

“What time do they wake up?” His face is weary, his tone polite in that kind of way like he is doing everything in his power to honor the virtuous upbringing his mother gave him.

“Um, well, you know, nine o’ clock is a little bit more fair; don’t you think?”

“I’ll wait till nine o’ clock.” He is still making that face.

“Okay. Thank you. I’m sorry.” And I am practically cringing. I imagine this is the one time that he has, when he is not working his day job, that he can do whatever job it is that he is doing now, whatever thing it is that his wife is probably pressuring him to do and that he will have to tell her he cannot do, as long as Whitey the Queen is stomping her little rhinestone-encrusted (I’m too practical for diamonds) foot.

I scamper out, wondering what I can do, if I should make a casserole or cookies or something to take over as an apology for being so … privileged. This is all going through my head as I make my iced mocha and my hot yerba mate tea (Yes, I have both in the morning and furthermore, I don’t normally interact with anyone before having this fix), when my thoughts are interrupted by the mosquito world’s equivalent of the Goodyear Blimp. It is so huge, in fact, and flying in such an erratic manner, I am not sure for a moment whether it is a fly or a mosquito. It is definitely the latter and I put the caffeine on hold yet again, squinting into the air to follow the little bloodsucker as it dips around, rising and sinking and bumping into the oven until it finally flies over the sink, where it is no longer camouflaged by black and I can see it long enough to swat it, making it fall into the metal basin where I whack it good, noting a smear of blood that is no doubt mine from the day before.

And though I should be proud of my massacre, because it is not easy to kill these beasts when their proboscis is not stuck into one of your pores, I cannot help but notice the lingering, almost stinging, feeling from the impact on the meat of my palm.

God bless; can I just have my tea now? Please?

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