The workmen are here

Earthquakes scare me. They’re the only certain natural calamity we’ve got in Northern California. There are wildfires, of course, but we live too far down the hill for that. There are floods, but we live too far up the hill for that. Mudslides, no; hurricanes, no; earthquakes — oh my yes.

So I BANG BANG BANG that will be the nail gun. So I realized that ROWR ROWR ROOOOOSSSSRRR  that will be the compressor that powers the nail gun. So earthquakes, yes, I was EEEEK EEEEEK EEEEEK the familiar sound of a great big mother-lovin’ drill.

Workman compromising our foundation

Earthquake retrofitting. That’s what’s happening at my house. I can hardly hear myself think, but I have already written these sentences, and I, and I, I can’t go on. I can’t. Dear god Sheila I am in this hellhole of noise and I can’t, what, I don’t even know what I can’t.

I had this really good essay about teachers, and this other really good thing about love letters,  and I was gonna kill those suckers, I swear, but now it’s all BANG BANG BANG inside my head. There should be a union for the unemployed. We have rights too.

So I am wishing you peace and serenity and I myself am going to check into Campton Place and order room service and listen to Tupelo Honey over and over again.  ROWR ROWR ROWR oh shut up and go away.

Your friend, Jon.


Photography by Tracy Johnston

Part-time IT fiddling and marketing by Michelle Mizera

23 thoughts on “The workmen are here

    1. Sounds like you need to join the many, the not so proud, the people who work at cafe’s — and the like. If you’re serious about Campton Place, there’s a good place just a couple blocks away that I also frequent, Capital One Cafe (it’s also a sort of bank) at Post and Kearny. You could think of it as The Well — the next generation..


  1. To paraphrase: “I hear your pain.”

    Leaf blowers, muffler-less motorcycles, garage band practice, flight paths, police helicopters, BART/Freeway noise, …

    The symphony of over-population density in a consumerist society?

    When the earth shakes, the damage to your home might be less than the “deductible” of your earthquake insurance, and that is the goal, no?


  2. as someone who has perpetrated that kind of violent noise, i can sympathize, but just think of how good you will feel when your house is left standing after “The Big One”


  3. Ah, the sweet sound of retrofitting! I was a carpenter for forty years and my family started a hearing aid fund for me one Christmas. Still can’t afford them but maybe that’s a good thing. They’ve been putting up a huge apartment building behind my place for a year. Barely hear a thing.


    1. Make sure that you get great sound killers for your ears if you have an MRI and want to think. That dementing noise is a competition between a jackhammer and a freight train, somehow in the chamber with you.


  4. Re Earthquake retrofits – you have my sympathy, I’m in the throes of having my 100+ year old brick chimney replaced with a metal flue – the brick stack at the top of the house was visibly leaning over, it wasn’t “if” anymore, it was “when,” so we decided on the controlled demolition in preference to having it fall into my neighbor’s driveway (next door house has been converted to offices, inhabited by four tort lawyers, so I went with self-preservation), but just as with your project the noise is incessant and maddening.


      1. Could be worse, they go home at night and don’t play loud music. One of them used to sit by a window that looks straight into the window over my sink, put up porn on his computer and then do what comes naturally, but he left a while back.


  5. You must be very grateful as to how quiet I was when I was down there years ago. I always marveled at how clean the dirt was.


  6. Some day you’ll be glad you made your place more secure. I did it in Berkeley and know the pain that goes with the gain


  7. Of course what you are supposed to do now is write a children’s book about this. You have the text about 3/4 done already. Hop to it, man!


  8. Hey Jon, some of the workers are or might be women. Why not adopt gender neutral language. I well remember working in just such a crawl space as an electrician. I wrote a blog post about it called Sexist Language is a Bitch at


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