There is nothing quite like a shared grievance to bring people who would have otherwise never spoken to each other closer together. All of a sudden we have something in common and we can hardly wait to talk about it. I was reminded of this recently during extensive balcony renovations at the building where I live.
Residents were told originally that the project would take six months but those of us who have lived in the complex for a long time and who have been through previous renovations knew better. Almost eight months later and well past the due date, the patience of some of the tenants began to wear thin.
The unbelievable noise and invasion of privacy was exceptionally challenging for those of us working at home or who are retired and who felt forced on some days to leave our apartments when we would rather have stayed home. It was difficult to concentrate or talk to anyone in our suites and often impossible to hear anyone on the phone. Having said that, does it make me wish I had to go out to an office every day to escape the noise? Let’s not get crazy!
With the exception of Sundays when we had a break from the constant drilling and strange men landing and talking loudly or blasting their music on our balconies, our blinds were permanently closed for more than eight months. Sometimes it got downright depressing.
We never know how good we have something until it is taken away from us. I always appreciated my balcony but never so much as when it was sealed shut during the months of renovations, rendering us prisoners in our own homes.
Neighbours who never spoke to one another before the balcony work began would suddenly stop and share their frustrations. I could not go from one common area to the next without being subjected to someone’s griping about the renovations.
There was no way to avoid it coming up in conversation. Everyone had a story. People I have seen in the elevator for years and never said a word to suddenly wanted to know what my experience has been since the renovations began, and in which ways I have suffered, anxious to compare their own tales of woe.
For some, it provided a chance for a fresh start and a chance to break the ice. All of a sudden we are smiling at each other as if it were the most natural thing in the world, as if we had always said hello and greeted each other before.
As much as it sometimes makes people feel better to commiserate, negativity can be contagious. I decided right from the beginning that I was not going to let the renovation or others’ bad moods about it get me down. There were, however, a few exceptions where even I thought I would go crazy when it felt like my unit was actually vibrating from the jack-hammering.
At least, on the bright side, our home does look refreshed and a lot nicer. Although we are still experiencing some noise even after all this time, it seems as though the worst is over and our sentence will soon have been served. It has not been easy but the day has come when the picture of the person falling and the piece of wood blocking the balcony door have been removed and I have actually been able to step outside. The freedom feels so good! I can hardly wait for next spring and summer when I am sitting on my balcony again, having my morning coffee or reading or writing in the afternoons or evenings.
I don’t think this is something people here in the complex will forget or stop talking about any time soon, even long after the renovations are fully completed.
Now that this interruption to our lives is coming to a close I think most of us who went through the experience will breathe a collective sigh of relief; but it is comforting to know that when we do have something to complain about there is usually someone around who is only too happy to join us.♠
Copyright © by Andrea Freedman 2013