Sunday, June 22, 2014

letter from a crabby neighbour - moi

I have a neighbour - I'm sure a very nice man - we've waved though we've never met - who enjoys his hobby, which is fixing up his house using an array of impressive power tools. He has many kinds of electric saws and drills and power washers; he hammers and staples and God knows what else. The man has a perfect right to do this, and I have a perfect right to curse him, sometimes quite loudly, as I did this afternoon. He started his latest project just after 8 a.m. Saturday and continued all day and all #%$ Sunday too, on and on, hammer and saw and a real screaming saw at that.

When another neighbour stopped by to complain, I decided to do what I do best - write. So I wrote a letter, wrapped it up in a nice bundle with three interesting and current books I was saving for the Little Free Library, and went over. He was in his driveway cutting stone with his circular saw; the noise was so loud, he didn't know I was there for some time. I smiled and gave him the package and left.

Here's the letter. I know my friend Lynn will laugh at my busybody letter-writing ways. I have not heard back, but the sawing did, not long after, stop, and the end of the day was sheer heaven. Am I a horrible intrusive person? Yes. Neurotic too. I hope he likes the books.

Dear neighbour:

Greetings to you on this beautiful Sunday afternoon. I’ve been writing this letter to you in my head for a long time – for years, actually – and now here it is. I’m finally writing it because it’s not just for myself but for other neighbours too.

Your house must be the most beautiful and perfect house in all of Toronto. We all know, because of the amount of time you spend with your power tools and your power washer, cutting and drilling, making and building and hammering and cleaning, especially on the weekend. It’s wonderful that you have work that absorbs you so.

Perhaps you’re not aware, though, that everyone in the neighbourhood knows exactly when you are at work. Yesterday morning I was awakened by the staple gun. Today, a stunningly beautiful Sunday, you have been hard at work from morning all through the day without a break.

Noise pollution is a big issue of concern for me, because tranquillity equals sanity in my book. It’s a joy and a miracle how quiet our neighbourhood can sometimes be, considering that we’re in the centre of the city. I know that the noise of power tools is just the price we pay for living with other human beings. And it could be much, much worse. There’s no loud music, for which I am profoundly grateful.

I cannot ask you to stop doing what you do. Perhaps there’s no solution for a man who loves to use power tools in a crowded city. I’m just asking you to be aware that on this beautiful tranquil Sunday, I and all your other neighbours have spent the entire day listening to you work and praying that soon your house will be perfect, and you will take up reading.  

With best wishes,


  1. Great letter, Beth! I guess you've had years to figure out how to tactfully tell him off. I'd probably have bought a gun by now.

  2. Even though all the sawing, drilling and banging has driven me mad for years, I'm always grateful, as I said, that it's not loud music. That would truly be unbearable. At least he's making something.