I live by the train station these days. The busiest intersection in the province, with passenger trains during the day, but more importantly, freight trains at night. And my room faces the tracks, every possible train going east (the mainland) to west (the sea) or vice versa passes under my window. A window that I like to leave open at night.
I’ve woken up thinking there was an earthquake, or the next world war had finally arrived. When I looked out my window, I looked over a sleeping city- and no less than 4 freight trains, mocking Newtonian physics with their sheer length, having a little dance. I don’t know who the fuck designed those undercarriages but I’m beginning to think noise was not a concern in his industrial little mind.
But that’s what I signed up for, right? Shoulda known better moving in as the next door neighbor of Gent Sint-Pieters. And all things considered, it’s not so bad. I get used to it, and if I don’t, I can always just close my window and wake up hot and sweaty on a summer morning. Such is the city life.
The living room, thank god, is oriented to the northeast, towards the city center- away from the tracks. Aside from some shaking and distant rumbling I don’t notice anymore, the effect from the trains has faded.
Nah, we got traffic filling in that lack of obnoxious noise. Cars. Trams with a backwards dinging noise for a horn- and they love using the dings. Ding ding. When there’s a car by the red lights in front of them, a car that shouldn’t be in their exclusive lane, where they have right of way:
Ding. Ding ding. Dingdingdingdingdingding.
Busses pulling up provide a rumbling bassline to their high-pitched annoyance, and the end result is a living room where you have to repeat yourself after the intersection has cleared.
It takes a bit of patience.
Road works cleared out the traffic for a while: They (redundantly) re-did the whole street, which might have kept out the dingers of doom, but merrily replaced them with grinding disks, diggers, and simple workers exploding tires as they drive their cement truck over the rebars. Train station on one side, construction yard on the other.
Now that they’re finished doing it twice since they forgot to reinforce the concrete around the tram tracks and had to break it up again, the landlord has decided it’s about time to fully renovate the apartment next to ours.
I woke up this morning to the sound of a jackhammer less that 2 meters from my face.
I went out to get paperwork in order, came back moody, and heard the noise swell to a deafening rattle as the elevator carried me to my floor.
I could go over there and use it on his face if my shattered common sense didn’t stop me.
Months and months of noise; grinding, hammering, roaring noise. I go to work: More noise. I come home late at night, the idiots outside have a deadline so they’re grinding away until midnight, after which they start yelling that the car has a flat tire.
Individually, they can’t help it. The work needs to be done but god damn it, my nerves are wearing thin. On top of an ambient noise level that most people would find completely unacceptable, we’re dealing with decibels that literally require hearing protection.
As I write this, the ape hired by our landlord (drunk ape I might add) is jackhammering away in the kitchen area, which is opposite the wall in our living room. It seems like he follows me around the house. I’ve got my headphones on, blazing Smashing Pumpkins into my ear and yes, I know it’s damaging my hearing but it’s the closest to some peace and quiet I can get without sitting in the rain in the nearby park.
I grew up in the fields, you know. I used to wake up to a dachshund barking in the distance, and birds chirping. There was a blackbird that my father hated, with its territory in our backyard. It song would change with the seasons.
These days, I sleep through freight trains, and wake up from chirping jackhammers. And here I am trying to become more aware of sound to be a better technician.