Dig we mustBy
After a certain amount of time, one gets the feeling (“one” means me) that nothing ever gets done around here. But lately, one would be wrong.
The gas and water lines need to be fixed, replaced, spayed, embalmed — something important, anyway. I glimpsed the hole in one wet degraded portion of a water pipe just unearthed — no telling how many gallons of the precious liquid had been lost forever (or on whose monthly bill the loss was charged).
This means, as everywhere in the world, they tear up everything and then have to put it all back when they’re done. Each phase is loud and dirty. Here, the work is all at the artisan level — no big fancy machines that make lots of noise. But that’s fine, because the men laboring on this task make enough noise all by themselves.
I don’t mean the assorted incessant clinkings and clunkings of heavy iron objects copied from tools excavated in Etruscan mining settlements. Chisels on stone, hammers on nails. This goes on all day but you can get used to it. At least it’s not drills. I’ve been through that too.
No, it’s the euphonious tones of the workmen themselves. They are louder and more insistent than the noise of their implements. You can hear them as they arrive for work, getting closer and closer, walking down the street and over the bridge already shouting at each other. And you can really hear them right outside your window as you try to think of other things, like what to have for lunch or why, if God is good, there is evil in the world.
They may be deaf. Even if they are, that doesn’t stop them. The comments are truncated, and inane, but almost always loud, and enlivened by unimaginative swearing and boring blasphemy. I can understand enough of it by now to be annoyed. I hate the blasphemy but I hate the inanity even more. I want to ask them why this is desirable, or (God forbid) necessary, but then I remember they’re making 40,000 times more money while talking than I am while listening.
Besides, I already know the answer. Instead of the missing motors, it’s their mouths that provide the energy necessary for their work. No shouting and blaspheming? The worksite suddenly freezes, men standing with half-raised utensils, staring at nothing.
If we were to put duct tape over their mouths, the world would stop. Or the repairs to the gas and water lines would stop, thereby prolonging the already prolonged project.
So if we have to endure bellowing and blathering in order to enable replacing that leaky pipe and re-cement those snaggled paving stones, I guess that’s the tradeoff. It would be nice if they’d work faster, but then again, it could be centuries since those pipes got a checkup.
I mean the submerged ones, not the ones in their throats.