They’re out there again—so loud that my poor dog goes wild with growling and barking, trying to warn them off and protect me. Winter usually drives them away, but this past winter barely ever made it out of autumn. They stayed away most of January and February out of pure caution, I suspect, but that’s been our only respite this year.
For the past week, though, they’ve been rumbling and growling and whining and gnashing again—the pavement-eating, pneumatic-drilling, cement-smashing, excavator-arm-clawing, forklift-driving, topsoil-stealing, concrete-truck-driving city workmen who have congregated in my neighborhood for over two and a half years now.
The 300-acre neighborhood surrounding my house has been made a national pilot project for green solutions to aging sewer problems by the city, the state, Mid-America Regional Council, and the EPA. They tore things up to make repairs and space-age changes to our ancient sewers without replacing them. Then, they tore things up to take out old sidewalks and driveways and put in new porous ones. Now, they’re tearing up the sidewalks and driveways that they drove me crazy putting in last year because some idiot put in regular concrete instead of the porous, breathable stuff. You could hear my teeth gnashing if it weren’t for the jackhammer pounding so hard.
During all of the upheaval last year, they shut off our water for the day four times with less than twelve hours’ notice, they cut off the power six times with about the same notice, and they cut through our gas lines twice, causing emergency evacuation for the day each time. Between all of that and the migraine-inducing grinding and hammering noise, I wrote much of the first draft of my second novel in the Skeet Bannion series and did most of the revisions at a local coffee shop instead of my office at the top of the stairs in my own home. In fact, two of the Panera’s supervisors are coming to my book launch for the first Skeet Bannion book, Every Last Secret, on April 24. They’ve become fans.
Now, the powers that be have decided that it’s safe for the guys to come back to work. This winter has had barely three hard freezes. At this late date, they probably don’t have to worry about snow or ice stopping their work. So they’re back—and I’ll have to start packing my laptop and files and heading over to a nearby coffee shop again.
My favorite locally-owned places have gone out of business during this whole process. I can’t figure out why. I certainly gave them regular custom—often breakfast, lunch and afternoon snacks. Still, on really bad days, when the pneumatic drills and concrete-cutting saws are pounding and whining at the same time, I’m grateful to have somewhere to go and do my work in peace. So don’t be surprised when you open my book and read, “This book is dedicated to Starbuck’s and Panera’s without whom nothing worth anything could have been written.”