I’m not at my best in the morning. I admit it. I don’t relish the sunrise. In fact, I’d prefer not to be notified of its occurrence.
I say this to explain why I inadvertently exposed more of myself than strictly necessary to the road crew working on the gas lines in front of my house last week.
It’s not like I was unaware of their presence. I mean, it’s pretty hard to ignore a backhoe parked across your street. Or a guy with a jackhammer breaking up the asphalt at the end of the driveway. Or the port-a-potty perched up the hill. After all, it’s the first thing I see when I open my living room blinds in the morning.
Still. It was the crack of dawn on a Monday morning (OK, 8 a.m.) and I hadn’t yet had my first cup of coffee. I usually enjoy my coffee while I read the newspaper. My husband or sons set it inside the door when they leave for whatever they do before 8 a.m., but on this day, there was no newspaper to be found.
I slumped down the stairs, opened the door and found our delivery person’s aim had been a bit off. The paper wasn’t nestled against the door; it was perched precariously on the edge of the porch.
Squinting my eyes against the morning glare, I stumbled forward, bending down to retrieve my sun-warmed newsprint.
A slight breeze shifted my short summer nightgown. The garment I hadn’t bothered to throw a robe over, since I was home alone.
Newspaper in hand, I straightened up. That’s when I saw the flagman with the STOP sign at the end of my driveway. That’s when I noticed the half-dozen hard-hatted workers swarming across the street.
Mortified, I gathered the slim remains of my dignity (and the even slimmer fragments of satin fabric) and shrunk toward my doorway.
The flagger slowly, raised his hand to his hard hat in a solemn salute. Then he grinned.
I know from my husband’s days as a military officer that I should have returned the salute, but like I said, I’m not my best in the morning.
I backed in through door, holding the tightly wrapped newspaper in front of me like a shield. Unfortunately, Monday’s paper is the slimmest shield The Spokesman-Review offers.
I took a few deep breaths, gulped some coffee and called my husband.
“Can you pick up something for dinner tonight? I can’t leave the house.”
He found my humiliation hilarious.
“Don’t worry, I’m sure they’ve seen worse,” he said.
“Worse? Do I look that bad in the morning!?”
Turns out my husband isn’t at his best or brightest in the morning, either.
Of course, I couldn’t hide in my house all week, but when it came time for my afternoon walk, I admit, I snuck out through our backyard and took a shortcut through the neighbor’s yard to avoid making eye contact with the friendly flagger.
The week and the street work on. Many mornings I awoke to the jarring sound of a jackhammer. Waking up is hard enough for me. Waking up to a jackhammer proved positively painful.
I finally penned a poem and posted it on social media.
Ode to a Jackhammer and the Man Who Wields it Outside My Front Door
For the love of God,
Yeah. So, I should probably stick to journalism. At any rate progress is proceeding at a glacial pace. Replacing gas lines can’t be done quickly. But I’m rather fond of hot showers and my gas fireplace warms my basement office all winter. Plus, the crews are working long, hard days in horrible heat, so I keep all this in mind when I navigate our torn-up streets.
I drive slowly and always try to offer a smile or a greeting when I’m forced to wait for a backhoe to move, or truck to rumble by.
On Friday, the flagman at the end of my driveway motioned for me to roll down my window as I backed out.
“Thank you for your smiles and friendly waves,” he said. “You would not believe how many dirty looks we get.”
I’m sure his appreciation had nothing to do with the nightgown-newspaper debacle. And his words of gratitude prompted my own thankful reflection.
The noise and inconvenience of the roadwork hasn’t been pleasant, but as I sat on my couch and gazed out my front window that evening, I realized things could be worse.
We could be the house that’s had a Porta Potty parked in front of it for two weeks.
Contact Cindy Hval at email@example.com. She is the author of “War Bonds: Love Stories From the Greatest Generation.” You can listen to her podcast “Life, Love and Raising Sons” at SpokaneTalksOnline.com. Her previous columns are available online at spokesman.com/ columnists. Follow her on Twitter at @CindyHval.