Say it with...Toilet Tissue?

by M.L. Ahn, 07/08/2007


At the end of June last year, a man came to my small apartment building to offer me and the other two tenant families a large package of toilet tissue. This was a first for me…despite having spent a decade in this country. I didn’t want to appear rude, so I graciously accepted the gift, bowing and saying kamsahamnida. But all the while, I’m in a state of total confusion, trying to figure out the hidden message behind the gift. That answer came very soon. About an hour later, a construction crew arrived and began working on the empty lot across the street. (Empty now, but there had been a house there a few days earlier. I had gone out (to one of the women’s groups coffee morning) one morning and came back a few hours later to find an empty spot where a house had been at 9 a.m.). The gift was an advance apology for what was to come and an expression of the company’s wish that the neighbours would understand and be patient.

Well, last week, the same man was bag and with another 24 rolls of Kleenex toilet paper. This time I knew what it meant and sure enough the sounds of a building – this time a 12-unit apartment building – being demolished could be heard up and down the street. Like it or not we had to shut all the windows and turn on the air conditioner and air purifier because of all the dust. The only netting was a small one between the condemned building and its neighbour on one side. I also knew that any life forms still residing there would be trying to find new homes….and sure enough, we’ve had a couple of potential tenants coming to visit. Hopefully, we’ve been able to get the message accross that they aren’t welcome in our building, but I expect we’ll have to remain constantly vigilant over the next few months.

Speaking of the next few months, I’m hoping that it won’t be a repeat of last year where the crew started off respecting the regulations around start/end times. However, as it’s the same company, I expect that in a short while, we’ll eventually start hearing drilling and hammering and the rest as early as 6 am and the one day of respite will disappear. I can accept the need for new building (although the one that was there was only 4-years old), but I do wish that instead of toilet paper, or any gift for that matter, they would come by and promise to never start early and to only work 6 days. And of course, keep the promise! Not only would we appreciate it, I think the workers would to.

P.S. Does anyone know why the gift of choice in this circumstance is toilet tissue?

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