The best thing about my apartment is that I can entertain large groups of friends. I enjoy opening my home to others.
But it’s difficult to watch as my apartment is occupied by a never ending stream of construction workers. There are carpenters, plasterers, tilers, electricians, plumbers and delivery men, as well as my building’s superintendents, coming in and out of the place throughout the day. And these workmen don’t seem to be shy about making themselves comfortable. They leave their coats and bags on top of my furniture, they leave their coffee cups on my window sills, and they use my tub to clean their tools.
Through the process there have been funny, friendly moments. I like to listen in as Joe and Brian, the Irish site supervisors, answer their cell phones in a brogue so dense and musical it sounds like a foreign language. I’ve found sketches, phone numbers, shopping lists, and dimensions scribbled all over the unfinished drywall. And I walked in at midday once to find the two tilers, young men from Ecuador, camped out in the middle of my bedroom with brown bag lunches as if they were having a picnic.
And there have been other moments when I almost lost my composure. One worker left his street shoes on top of my wood chest of drawers, a surface I don’t even rest coffee cups on. My vacuum cleaner was taken, without permission, to clear site debris. The appliance, a fancy one that’s only intended for light cleaning, now has scuffs and paint stains. And one afternoon, after I had moved back into my bedroom, I opened the door to find two strange men inside, removing their shirts. “Please wait, Lady,” one of them pleaded. “We just finished plastering the walls in your bathroom and now we’re changing our clothes.” I turned around, annoyed but also sorry to have invaded their privacy.
I like all the workmen and know that that they won’t damage my things. But it’s disconcerting to have them take over my place, to make a home for themselves here when I can’t.