I got the note under the door the other day 며칠 전에 that every New Yorker dreads 두려워하다, 걱정하다, 염려하다: “Dear Neighbor. This notification is to make you aware that there will be a renovation project for apartment No. 666.” (Not its real number.) “I appreciate your understanding while the renovation is ongoing 진행 중인 and the contractor will make every effort to limit the amount of noise or disruption to you throughout the process.”
This is what I want to know: How?
Is the contractor making his guys walk around in puffy slippers? Putting up the kind of padding you see in horse stalls 마굿간? Mimicking the sound of a New York City restaurant so we won’t be able to hear anything more than 10 inches away?
Because with this renovation, which started last week, I am hearing every appliance dragged across the room, every scrape 삐걱거리는 소리 as the ceramic tiles are pulled off the kitchen floor, every cabinet as it’s been pried from the wall, keening for its life.
This renovation is not even directly overhead; it’s the apartment one up and one over, and when they ripped off the door frames, it was as if the crowbar were being raked across my exposed skull. I read a terrifying article in The New Yorker recently about a woman having facial surgery in which bone was chipped and sawed out of her forehead and jaw, and I’m thinking her surgery would have felt like this renovation, had she decided to forgo ~없이 지내다, 버리다, 그만두다 anesthesia 마취, 무감각.
None for me, thank you. I used to live in New York and I miss the noise. And to make it even more realistic, could the scrub nurse run back and forth at the foot of the operating table and imitate an ambulance siren moving through traffic? But move really slowly, like the one I saw on Sixth Avenue when I last visited. My theory was that the patient had died, probably from the stress of an overhead renovation, but the ambulance was obligated to make noise because of a contract with the city.
I hear complaints, sometimes, from people who are doing a renovation and do not live in a New York City apartment house, and what I think is: “Oh, shut up. So what if you’re sucking up dust and the noise is driving you crazy? At least you’re sucking up your own dust and noise. In New York, we’re sucking up everybody’s.”
And New Yorkers cannot complain to the neighbor doing the renovation because we know one day we are going to look at our floors, which have not been scraped in 30 years and look like a saloon in the Old West or, in that spot near the radiator, a saloon in the Old West where they let the cattle 소 drives through, and think: “Oh, what’s $14,000? I will just write a courteous 예의 바른, 정중한 note to my neighbors apologizing about the noise my floor installation will make and that will make them feel so much better when they are home with the flu and the workers are jackhammering over their heads. I could also leave a box of cookies from City Bakery in front of their doors. Let’s see, four apartments near me, five each the floors above and below. That’s 14 boxes of cookies at $25 a box. That’s $350. I could buy a really nice jacket for that.”
[Bonus Renovation Tip, Which Like So Much in Life Was News to Me: You do not have to put your furniture into storage if you’re putting down new flooring. The floor guys just move everything back and forth between rooms. I have an enormous mahogany desk that weighs a ton and they just shoved it from spot to spot. THWONK! BLAM! KLOMPH! I’m just guessing those were the sounds, I had the work done when I was in Fiji. I told people I was going for the snorkeling, but actually it was to get as far away as I could from the renovation.]
Where was I? Oh, yeah, the dreaded “Dear Neighbor” note slipped under your front door. A New Yorker spots one of those things getting out of the elevator, and your heart starts pounding and you start to sweat and you think: “Please, God, not a renovation. Let it be that somebody died. Anyone, I don’t care.”
Then you pick the note up and read the “Dear Neighbor” line, and you think, “Please, just a walk-in closet,” which is more magical thinking — you do not get “Dear Neighbor” notes for closets.
Actually, the most common prayer for New York City tenants is “Please, no windfall 바람으로 떨어진 것, 뜻밖의 횡재,” because when somebody gets a windfall, the first thing they do is buy an apartment and gut 파괴하다, 태워버리다 it.
This is why New Yorkers are so uncharacteristically 특징 없이 friendly when somebody moves into the building.
“Welcome! Where you moving from?”
“SoHo. I was in this start up and the company went bust 파산하다. I had to empty 내쏟다 my 401 K to be able to move in here.”
Great, no renovation.
“Welcome! What brings you to the neighborhood?”
“My mother died unexpectedly, she was a brilliant investor. Her last words were, ‘Move to Manhattan, buy an apartment with an open floor plan so you aren’t cut off in the kitchen when you have people over, and live the dream. If the place you love doesn’t have an open floor plan, gut it. Don’t worry about accidentally knocking down a supporting wall, Mommy will be watching from heaven.”
Then you know you’re in trouble.
Then the best you can do is go back to your place and think about North Korea’s nuclear missiles and how their range is growing by the minute. They can probably reach New York by now. Maybe you’ll get lucky.
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