Rose Richard

I’m thinking of bringing a stress claim against the city for creating almost incessant loud noise. My skull reverberates and I’m developing a chronic fear of the building shaking when dump trucks roar by.

I live right near Psycho Safeway. I don’t think I need to explain where this is, because most Portland State students are very familiar with both the store and the crazy, crazy people who shop there.

They are building a new Safeway, which in theory will be better, though I think the clientele will remain about the same. On top of the Safeway will be either mixed or low-income housing, much like the rest of the housing in the immediate area.

However, in order to achieve this new Safeway (which will hopefully have a better fruit selection), it seems that some buildings had to be knocked down and big holes needed to be dug.

To the credit of the builders and the demolishers, they are moving fast. The St. Francis Hotel, long a Portland landmark and a source of housing for low-income people, was torn down in about three or four days. The ugly buildings that sat where the new Safeway will be were also rapidly destroyed, although my neighborhood smelled like a musty old apartment for a few weeks.

Then came the jackhammers. They pounded and pounded, the sound of the hammers bouncing off the walls of other buildings and pouring down my ear tubes until my hair turned gray. It’s been going on since about October and I don’t know how much more I can take.

I don’t drink as much as I used to, but when I get hung over and the jackhammers start, I want to throw myself in front of one of the dump trucks that speeds perilously down my street.

These dump trucks start work at some horrible hour before the sun even rises. The backup tones are a very effective wake up call. The dump trucks take loads and loads of dirt away from the nearby building sites. When they aren’t full, they drive through the neighborhood like Tom Selleck in his Magnum P.I. Ferrari. I cannot imagine what would happen if one of those were to try to stop.

When they are full, they move ponderously, slowing traffic. Not that I care what happens to traffic, because I don’t drive, but when they block cross walks, I get angry. The trucks also take up parking spaces, which I’m curiously protective of, even though I don’t have a car.

Today, I was alternately blasted with sound, exhaust and almost forklifted. I am always extremely cautious when approaching my domicile; flaggers are an afterthought, and sidewalks and crosswalks are arbitrarily blocked. I must choose my path carefully.

As I was halfway across the street, a forklift came out of nowhere, with the forks pointed straight at me. No warning at all. Then it stopped, turned and ran into a streetlight.

As I walked up the street, approaching each blind corner as if a dangerous animal lurked behind it, I was hit in the face with a spume of exhaust from a crane. It was backed right up against the makeshift sidewalk and merrily chugging exhaust into my alveoli.

Then a guy with a saw started in, mere feet from my precious, tiny ears, with which I would like to hear for the rest of my life. The workers get ear plugs, but I do not.

I hope they work even faster. I’m tired of dodging the dump trucks that barrel down the street, forklifts and ear splitting sounds. I’m glad it’s happening all at once, instead of one building at a time, because I just don’t need deep sustained booming sounds to punctuate the duration of my stay here in scenic downtown Portland.