Vacationing with a rooftop cavalry on the charge

Depending upon one’s personal preferences, vacations offer a broad and ever-changing variety of exciting possibilities – travel, sports, visiting long-lost relatives or, perhaps, studiously avoiding long-lost relatives.

For many of us, an important part of any vacation is enjoying the luxury of tossing one’s bedside alarm clock into a drawer and blissfully sleeping in for an extra hour or two each morning.

At least that’s what I was looking forward to a few weeks ago when I decided to take some time off and get reacquainted with the long, lazy mornings I remember from my last vacation in, er, 1996.

Alas, it was not to be. On the first morning of my vacation, the Mad Cossack Roofing Company arrived on top of my apartment shortly before 7 a.m. and immediately began practicing cavalry charges back and forth across the roof.


I can’t imagine how they got a horse up there, but that’s what it sounded like as the ceiling shook and the hooves, er, hammers, pounded roughly 8 feet above my bed.

Sure, my apartment manager had notified residents weeks before that roofers would be working in our apartment complex – the beginning of the rainy season is always a good time to do roofing – but I’d stored the information away in a small compartment of my brain labeled “Don’t Worry – Be Happy!”

How the hardy troop of Russian cavalry managed to land on my roof at precisely 6:55 a.m. on the very first day of my vacation still remains a mystery to me, but there they were.

Sleeping after their arrival was an impossibility and, I reasoned quite reasonably, the roof had to be repaired someday and that day apparently had come.

“I’ll just have a cup of coffee and get on with my vacation,” I thought. “Maybe I can catch a nap at the bus station…”

Silly me.

No sooner had I sat down with a reheated cup of yesterday’s coffee than the roofing cavalry launched a particularly enthusiastic offensive overhead. Moments later, I noted that there was an inordinately large amount of coffee creamer in my mug.

Strangely enough, I don’t use creamer in my coffee.

“Hmmmmm,” I wondered as yet another dollop of white powder rained down on my dining-room table.

Yes, the exuberant roofers had somehow managed to send a large chunk of debris crashing through the crawl space directly above me and had broken the plasterboard over the dining room.

(Did I already say “Wheeeee”?)

The pounding continued for another day, but after that the Mad Cossack Roofing Company moved its theater of operations to another portion of the apartment complex and only periodic pounding could be heard from my bedroom.

With nearly two weeks of vacation still ahead of me, I trundled off to bed the following night prepared for a leisurely wake-up time well into mid-January.

That’s when the scrub jays flew in to serenade me shortly before dawn. They were ahead of their usual springtime arrival, but they were in fine voice.


Thank God none of them had hammers …

Originally published February 11, 2007

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