Memo to Machine Man: Buy a rake, take a break


August 07, 2008|By Jacqueline D'Alessio

Dear Machine Man,

I'm the woman who lives across the wide creek in Annapolis. You already know who you are. You are the man of all things loud - the Almighty Macho Machine Man. You have never met a two-cycle engine you didn't like. "The more noise, the better" is your motto.

You begin your onslaught with a little leaf-blowing at the mind-boggling hour of 7:30 a.m. Not your regular, steady ear-splitting whine, mind you. No. Instead of a constant "WWWWWWWAAAAAAAAA- AAAAAAAA," you choose the much more annoying form of a pulsing on and off: "WWWAAA" ... blessed second of silence ... "WWWAAA" ... and on and on, ad infinitum.

I must say, you have delayed your start time to a more considerate 8:15 or so. This, mind you, also includes Saturdays and Sundays, but what the hey. At least you're trying.

Maybe it has something to do with the morning I ran out in my nightgown to the edge of my side of the creek and bellowed out a whistle loud enough to penetrate your leaf-blowing fog 150 yards away. Well, sound does carry across water, as I've come to appreciate. At any rate, you stopped in your tracks. I was the screaming lunatic on the other side. In case you couldn't hear all that I said, I'll kindly repeat it for you.

"Buy a rake. Buy a rake. Buy a rake." That was pretty much it in a nutshell.

If you must know, what really got to me most when I looked across the water was the simple fact that you were drinking your morning coffee while breaking the sound barrier with an earsplitting machine. Have you no sense of inner peace? I don't mean to sound harsh, but really now.

As I write this, you have moved on to weed whacking. You are indeed weed wacky. Yes, I am sitting right there at the edge of the water, in plain sight, and you're weed whacking. Every day. Let me say this again. Every day.

Last Sunday evening, you courteously altered your schedule to interrupt the party we were holding at the water's edge. I hope we didn't inconvenience you in any way.

Yesterday, you were chain-sawing branches in the afternoon, and then chipping the wood in the evening. It was officially 100 degrees in the shade. Do you know no boundaries? Will you ever quit? When you finish your outside onslaught and can find no more vegetation to attack, do you go inside and run the blender for fun? Do you have taped recordings of two-cycle engines blasting from your stereo?

I'll bet you have at least two televisions running at all times. Do you own a short-wave radio to emit constant emergency communications in their typically jarring, staccato style, with large blocks of crackling static adding the perfect counterpoint? Just a thought.

In the meantime, I have a simple proposal to help you make good decisions. I suggest that the public tax you $25 an hour for the privilege of disturbing the peace. To sweeten the offer, we'll throw in three hours a week free for your judicious use. That's right. For three whole hours every week, you can blow, mow, whack and chip to your heart's content, free of charge. After that, a small surcharge of only $25 an hour will provide you the rare opportunity to disturb my peace. After all, it's your peace, too. You just don't realize it.

P.S. I think you would get significantly more pleasure from your activities if you dressed in a special costume. I was thinking along the lines of Superman, but with a giant, gold "M" emblazoned in the middle. I'd be happy to design it for you, if you promise to wear it only three hours a week.


Jacqueline D'Alessio teaches psychology career development and executive leadership at the University of Maryland College and Anne Arundel Community College

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