Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Lazy Echo

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA


That's all I can hear right now -- BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRUUUUUUUUMMM -- it even drowned out the melodious sounds of John Coltrane that usually filled up the living room and dining room during a writing session.

My only solace was the time of disruption. 12:53pm. At least it was a reasonable hour. I've heard the gurgling leaf blowers as early as 7am. The most annoying of them usually crop up between 8 and 9am. That's the time I liked to write with the windows wide open before Nicky woke up. I usually (well, mostly always) lost the face off and had to shut the windows to drown out the whirling sounds of the machines from across the street or down the alley. Some days, it's nonstop from the time I wake up until late afternoon. The deafening machines often rile up the yapping mutts next door, who in turn go berserk and won't stop barking. As a result, at the times when I need the most concentration to do work and create something out of nothing, I have to drown out the cacophony of barking dogs and bellowing leaf blowers.

It's one thing to have to deal with distractions at work. But that's why working at home is supposed to have an intrinsic benefit -- that it would be a much quieter place with less distractions than a press box, or a cubicle.

Alas, I live in a part of the world where appearances are everything that matters. Style and flash are more important than substance and practicality. Which is why neighbors who can barely afford their rent, let alone the payments on their BMWs or SUVs, also add to their unneccesary expenses by adding a gardener or landscaper to their monthly bills.

That's such an L.A. thing to do -- hire someone else to help you look good instead of doing it yourself. I'd have more respect for my neighbors if they toiled on their lawns and gardens. But they don't, so I don't. They contracted landscaping companies, themselves one of the most corrupt industries in all of Southern California. Don't think I'm writing this to bash the landscaping industry. At some point in my life, I've held a couple of random jobs that included landscaping work in Georgia, Washington, and even New York.

It's one thing if my neighbor woke up early to work on the aesthetics of his house, but that's not the case, because everyone is too lazy to do their own lawn, or so removed from manual labor that they don't know what to do. Alas, the lawn "has to look good" by any means necessary, which is the excuse for some many atrociously retarded things (like fake tanning) in Hollyweird.

In my neighbors' frenzy to have a cosmetically perfect lawn, they overlooked the rampant corruption within the landscaping industry and failed to do any due diligence, often hiring shading operators who in turn hired illegal immigrants and purposely paid low wages. Classic skimming scheme -- the landscaping company pockets the bulk of the fees from my lazy neighbors, who then sub-contracts out the work to a different company (and the sub-contractor takes his cut including a fatty kick back to the original feeder company), and the sub-contractor in turn hired illegals to do the actual labor. So, not only do the guys with the leaf blowers not speak English, they also make peanuts, a ;owly day-workers rate, because the greedy contractors force them to do more lawns per day to increase their overall profits. To squeeze in more lawns per day, the landscapers show up at the crack of dawn and to speed up the process, they use leaf blowers.

Alas, who do I take my grievance up with? My neighbors, right? The guys with the rakes and leaf blowers are members of the proletariat, just guys working hard and trying to make ends meet. The contractors are running businesses and working within the confines of a corrupt system, so can I fault them? After all, they are trying to stay competitive by maximizing client fees (never underestimate the extent that a denizen of LA will pay in order for something to "look better") and reducing labor costs. So, the onus falls onto my neighbors -- the lazy ones who indirectly fund illegal workers and condone the use noise-polluting leaf blowers that disrupt my work day.

Maybe I should find out where my neighbors work and hire gardeners to fire up a leaf blower in the middle of their offices for 20-minute stretches.

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