When I lived in Peel St., across the road from Melbourne’s great Queen Victoria Markets, from 2002 to about 2006, I would fill a box with vegetables every Saturday, stroll through every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday on my way to work, or chat with the elderly Chinese man who rented or owned the warehouse next door on Sundays. It was a great place to live, shop and relax.
But, in the evenings, once the last of the stall holders had packed up and left, it all changed.
No, it wasn’t over-run with drug addicts or drunk arseholes, it became the sole domain of a team of cleaners contracted to work through the evening until around 11:30pm. It seemed that their primary objective was to pollute the area with as much noise as possible, consistently, indefatigably, deafeningly, until late at night. Cleaning the markets was a byproduct.
My poor little sash window, which did a poor job at best keeping the traffic noise below out, would be almost vibrating in indignation at the aural assault from across the road. I would half hang out that window, yelling at the top of my lungs to shut up and get a broom, but to no avail – those clever cleaners were wearing ear protectors, oblivious to the stress and consternation they were causing, concerned only with blowing the odd lettuce leaf, or newspaper page from here to there.
Of course brooms must have been outlawed following some horrible accident, and I’d missed that news report.
Of course filling up the tank with 2-stroke, yanking the ripcord, putting on the goggles and ear protectors, and strapping on the screaming beast in order to move these bits of rubbish from here to there, is far more efficient than picking up a broom, risking callouses, not to mention that mysterious accident, and getting your back into some physical work! Who knows the horrific extent of calamities awaiting the poor fool still using this antiquated, and obviously dangerous tool.
The noise generated by only one of these monsters is enough to make you want to rip it from the operator and severely beat him with it, however, I would be treated to a trio of these things, carousing and screaming at each other, echoing around the deserted markets.
I was sorry to leave the area when I moved, but glad to be rid of this senseless crap.
Let’s jump forward to 2013, where I find myself living in a lovely little outer suburban town called Uneno, in Kawanishi City, in Hyogo Prefecture. All part of the greater Osaka metropolis really. At the end of our quiet little street, populated mainly by quiet little retired folk, is a quiet little temple, which my wife and I go to every day. In spring the cherry blossoms explode in glorious pink there; in summer the green jungle takes over, offering a canopy from the sun. In winter it becomes like a postcard of a quiet little Japanese temple in winter, and in autumn it features a carpet of red, yellow, orange and brown Japanese maple leaves. Uh oh. I thought it was too good to be true. Sure enough, this morning we woke to the unmistakable sound of a f&#king leaf blower, tearing up the atmosphere of our quiet little street and quiet little temple, like it was tissue paper.
As my wife and I walked up towards the temple, my hatred bristling like the hair on the back of a drive-in dog, the screaming monster was even drowning out the house construction located directly between us and the temple. Climbing the stairs to what is usually a placid sanctuary, I’m greeted with the not unexpected scene of a little gardner blowing some leaves from here to over there, with a screaming beast strapped to his back. Obviously those evil brooms have been outlawed here too, even with Japan’s more relaxed workplace safety standards!
As we left the temple, watching the little gardner dealing with a rather stubborn leaf by pushing it along with the beast’s nozzle (be careful!! It’s almost like a broom!!), I thought to myself for the first time in almost a decade, “death to leaf blowers”.