Noise or a Lack Thereof

Pause for a moment as you stroll down the street in your little Mexican town to observe the construction site. You see several men toiling in the heat; digging with shovels, pickaxes and machetes, mixing cement in a little puddle on the ground, climbing rickety wooden ladders with five gallon pails of cement on their shoulders. They’re talking and singing as they work, but you can’t make out what they’re saying over the squeals of the retarder brakes from the trucks barreling down the highway.

Master craftsmen they are, too, creating beautiful decorative motifs with a few nails, a bit of wire, and some cement, or laying intricate tile patterns, intent on the task, and seemingly oblivious to the noise around them.

Messy they are, too, splattering cement on everything within ten feet as they parge the walls.

Demanding they are too. “Una bolsa más de cemento, por favor, señora.” And the next day, “Una bolsa más de cemento, por favor, señora.” And the next day and the next.

Two years later, you stop to chat with one of the workers who has spent a year in Calgary on a construction site.

“What did you like best about Canada?” you ask raising your voice to be heard above the blare of the loudspeakers in the passing truck advertising “Camerones! Camerones! Buenos precios.”

“It’s so quiet. You can really rest,” he says.

A pack of dogs yap wildly and several roosters crow. You wait for a momentary interval of silence. “How about those Calgary winters? Pretty cold, eh? How did you like that?”

“It’s so quiet in Canada. You can really rest,” he says.

“How was the work? Work?” You make trowel motions and yell over the rumble of a Global gas truck.

“It’s so quiet in Canada. You can really rest.”

You stop with the questions about Canada and ask about his family, half expecting to hear, “It’s so quiet…”


8 comments on “Noise or a Lack Thereof

  1. Imagine! Who would have thought that something like quiet would be used to describe Canada. It made me stop to listen and sure enough, there is a quietness around us that we must learn to appreciate.
    Well done, Darlene! Keep writing, Karen

  2. And I thought “real” quiet was in Kenya, on safari, when the driver turned the truck off and you couldn’t hear anything at all. I also, talked to a fellow from Lebanon, who raved about the quiet in Canada (and of course – peace).

  3. Pingback: Volume has risen. The imbecilic din encroaching everywhere… – Lead.Learn.Live.

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