I was woken at 9am by a loud drilling sound today.
Yes, today Saturday, the day after Friday night.
It would go for 30 secs, then stop for a couple of minutes, then start again.
You’d think, ‘Fucking bastard drilling! Oh, it’s stopped, maybe I can get back to sleep…ARGH, NO ARGH!’
Now I’m staying at my boyfriend’s who lives in Stokes Croft in Bristol. It’s a mixed, somewhat bohemian area. There are some families and young professionals, but there’s also lots of students/artists/other people who stay up late.
And it’s Saturday bloody morning. I’m betting most people on the street had a late night last night. This includes my boyfriend, who works in a bar, and didn’t get home until 6am.
So who would think it was reasonable to make that much noise that early on a Saturday? I’m naturally an owl. Left to my own devices I’d sleep from 2am-10am. And yet I would never start drilling at midnight. Even though I’m prepared to bet that more people on this street are awake at midnight, on your average day, than are awake at 9am on Saturday.
And why the fuck can’t they shut up!
I was so furious I pulled on some clothes and stomped outside.
“Excuse me, I DON’T THINK IT’S REASONABLE TO MAKE THAT NOISE AT THIS TIME. IT’S 9AM ON A SATURDAY, EVERYONE WAS ASLEEP.’
The man with the drill turned round and said,
‘It says in my contract I’m allowed to make noise from 8am.’
Now let’s unpick this for a second:-
- Why does a person think this is a reasonable response? Are rules and regulations the only arbiter of behaviour? Have we lost any sense that getting along with others requires compromise and consideration?
There’s loads of things that we try to avoid doing (even though they aren’t illegal), just out of consideration for others. Wear perfume that smells of durian fruit. Invite people round for dinner and serve up brussel sprouts. Repeatedly use up the last bit of milk without getting more.
We don’t only decide what to do according to what the rules say. We think about how our actions will affect others. This is the basis of how we live in social groups any bigger than a single person. And yet somehow rules are treated as the supreme arbiter. As a substitute for consideration.
- Why, why, WHY are there regulations which say that builders can make all sorts of noise from 8am? To me this is a time when many reasonable people are still asleep. I realise a lot of people are awake then. But then a lot of people are awake at midnight and we aren’t allowed to make noise then.
I’ll tell you why, it’s cos those bastard early rising people have convinced everyone they are somehow morally superior and we should respect their sleep, but they don’t have to respect ours. They stitched us all up at breakfast meetings.
‘I don’t care about the rules. It’s 9am on a SATURDAY. I’m betting 90% of the people on this street got to bed after 2. You’re waking everybody up!’
‘Well some of us have to work.’
Which I thought was pretty snippy. Here it is again, the moral superiority of early rising. As if no-one who goes to bed late ever does any work.
‘Yes, like my boyfriend, who works in a bar and got home at 6am, and you just woke him up.’
That shut him up for a minute.
‘Err, well, I’m sorry about that, but…’
Unusually for a Friday, I’d actually gone to bed at a sensible time, and not even had a drink. It’s a lot easier to get righteous on other people’s behalf I find. I said,
‘Who do you work for? Who do I complain to?’
He got back on his defensive tip,
‘They’ll just say the same as me, I’m allowed to make noise from 8am.’
Gloriously, a voice came from behind me,
‘Just answer the question!’.
Me and drilling man both look round, to see a woman in her nighty hanging out of a window across the road.
‘We don’t care what you sodding think. Just tell us who you’re bloody working for!’,
He could see I had the mood of the street behind me, but he wasn’t happy about it. He suggested I read it off the back of his t shirt.
It was Hudson Plumbing and Heating Services, 0117 902 5820. I brandished my notepad and wrote it down. They’ll certainly be bottom of my list for all my plumbing needs from now on.
When I called them (I was still proper blazing), I was told that they were working for the council, with a stipulation that the work must be done within 24 hours, because it was for a disabled lady and her mobility is impaired without the repair. Now obviously I want disabled people to have whatever repairs they need to be able to get about. But I also want everyone on the street to be able to get sleep.
I’m betting that if the woman in the house had been doing her own repair (or getting a relative or friend to do it), then they’d have acted like a person, and thought ‘I don’t want to piss everyone off’, and started a bit later in the day. But somehow large organisations don’t behave like people, and the people within them stop behaving like people too. And really, without wanting to sound too ‘Thought for the Day’, isn’t that exactly the same problem that caused the banking crisis, global warming, and all the bad stuff?
So I propose we all think about how we can make organisations stop acting like psychopaths, and start acting like socially-adjusted human beings, as a matter of urgency.
And we also stop with this absurd moral judgement over where people’s body clocks are set. Your chronotype is just natural biological variation, like height or hair colour. Being an early riser doesn’t make you better. And in this part-time, working-from-home, 24 hour economy, shouldn’t we recognise that plenty of people are asleep at 8am, and they’ve every right to be? I’ll vote for anyone who promises no drilling before 10am. Noon on weekends.