Bulldozer blues

You might assume that one advantage of working at home would be the peace and quiet that comes from having no blustery bosses or loud machinery or gossiping coworkers nearby.

Not so. Even the best-equipped home office can be surrounded by noise and distraction.

I was constantly reminded of this after we moved into our current subdivision. My office may be the house's one quiet refuge -- particularly when the children are home -- but the neighborhood itself was a construction zone.

All day, I was serenaded by the roar of heavy equipment and the woodpecker-chatter of hammers and the beep-beep-beep of trucks backing up.

The large, arched window in my home office seemed one of the new house's best attractions, easy access to long hours of staring outside and goofing off. But the window provides no barricade to the construction noise. Instead, it seems to funnel every grumble and beep straight into my brain.

I should've known it would be this way. When we bought this house, it was clear that several surrounding homes weren't finished yet. Plus, the subdivision is called Bulldozer Heights, which ought to have been a clue.

Not that the new neighborhood should be any different from anywhere else I've ever lived. I was born in the peak year of the Baby Boom, which means I've been hammered by construction noise my whole life as facilities were built or enlarged to accommodate the population bulge.

Every school I attended was in the process of being expanded to cope with the growing number of students. One whole year of high school was spent with a three-story-high piledriver whanging away outside my classroom windows. No wonder I never mastered algebra.

While students at other colleges amused themselves with Frisbees and beer busts, the main activity at my university was dodging front-end loaders.

Every office where I've ever worked -- except one -- was filled with the plaster dust and smelly paint and jackhammer noise of constant renovation.

(The one office that was finished by the time I arrived was a strictly regimented world with dozens of rules aimed at preserving the new carpet from spills. Since the new carpet stank like, well, like new carpet, it was all I could do not to deliberately pour coffee all over my cubicle.)

Each apartment or house where I've lived -- even ones in established neighborhoods -- was the scene of construction or reconstruction or renovation. If all the buildings in the area were finished, then I could count on city workers to come by and start tearing up the streets. Crash, crunch, beep, beep, beep.

Yes, I blame this lifetime of noise on being part of the most populous generation. More people has meant steady construction to make room for all of us. That construction has meant noise. And that, my friends, is the real reason they call it the Baby BOOM.

Alas, you can't stand in the way of progress. Well, you can, but if you hear a beep-beep-beep, you might want to run the other direction.

Someday, all the construction noise will grind to a halt, both nationwide and here in the neighborhood. Smaller succeeding generations mean we'll eventually have all the houses and other buildings we need.

Then, no doubt, it'll be time to tear up the streets.

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