Night of the Ear Plugs

Yesterday, I finally took the advice of several individuals (who were presumably tired of hearing me complaining) and I purchased a set of ear plugs in festive neon colors. The purchase was precipitated by a fear of what usually happens on Monday mornings.

It starts at around 5:00 AM, when the garbage truck goes by for the first time. Despite the fact that there are only two sets of cans in close proximity to my bedroom, the garbage men somehow manage to dump approximately 12 garbage cans before driving off. A little bit later, another truck comes by to pick up the recycling, which they throw in piece by piece, presumably sorting the single stream recycling cans. Let me stress that the garbage truck parks directly next to my bedroom, so close that I can smell the banana peels as I lie seething in bed.

At around 7:00 AM, the starlings start. First, it’s just gentle peeping, and then it is followed by full bore shrieking for food, which sets the roosters (roosters?!*) next door off. I am determined to continue sleeping, however, and I burrow sulkily into the covers.

Then, at 8:00 AM, they start working on the house next door, dropping iron weights through sheets of plywood and methodically placing one nail for every inch of surface, to make sure that the house is structurally sound. I finally give up and roll out of bed, grumbling softly since I went to bed about five hours ago, and I stumble into the kitchen to make tea, tripping over a cat who is manically demanding food.

It is a great irony that it is noisier in Fort Bragg than it was in San Francisco.

So, anyway, I got earplugs. I do not set much store in ear plugs, so I prepared to be colored unimpressed. Last night, I followed the directions carefully, inserting the earplugs and gloomily watching them pop back out, perfectly illustrating the “NO!” caption on the ear plug packaging. I finally settled for holding them in for five minutes while the foam expanded, and then stealthily removing my finger.

My first assessment was that despite the 32 decibel rating, I could essentially hear everything. I heard cats meowing, I heard the toilet running (again, damn it), I heard the starlings making restless peeping noise as they slept. Ah well, I thought, this will make an amusing story the next time people tell me to “stop complaining and buy ear plugs already!” So I settled off to sleep, with an unusual and strange feeling in my ears.

I woke up briefly at around 5:30, when I vaguely heard rattling noises, and Loki stepped on my bladder. I realized that the recycling had been picked up. I couldn’t hear starlings at all, and when I finally got up at nine and pulled the ear plugs out, I could hear construction going on full bore next door, as it obviously had been since 8. My ears may have felt odd, but oh, it was worth it. I can sleep during the week at last!

*Yes, my neighbors have roosters. I actually checked the municipal code, because I was curious, and discovered that you are allowed to keep chickens, as long as they don’t cause a nuisance. I rather like chickens, so I don’t really care. For those of you who feel differently about your chicken keeping neighbors: “…provided, however, that if such animals cause a nuisance by reason of their numbers, noise or odor, such a nuisance may be cited as an infraction or abated by civil suit.” (Ord. 520 ยง11, 1979.)