07 July 2008

Rude Awakenings, Chapter 9

In the never-ending quest of the city of Paris to find novel ways to wake me, I record now the latest and perhaps most interesting Thing That Goes Bump in the Morning.

Across the street from my apartment is a polytechnic high school undergoing renovations that require the use of temporary classrooms. These are made of 24 pre-fabricated units, stacked three high, two deep, and four across. This morning, an immense crane arrived and began to take apart the structure, lifting the units one by one and loading them onto a flatbed truck. I have watched with a little boy’s fascination.

How they managed to get the crane or the flatbed (to say nothing of both) in our little street remains a mystery to me: this part of the operation was carried out quietly, while I was drinking my coffee and had my back to the window. (That is, they sneaked up on me.) In the best of circumstances, our street can accommodate barely a few Smart cars, and in recent weeks the street has been more crowded than ever. The city has been “upgrading the natural gas network,” a process that entails ripping up every sidewalk and blocking traffic; a quarter of our street itself is currently oocupied by material for the high-school renovation, surrounded by a metal fence. Despite these obstacles, Parisians continue to park here.

Yet the workers brought their vehicles and set about dismantling the building. With remarkable swiftness and against a roaring wind, they were finished within a few hours. They made so little noise that they must be ashamed of themselves. However, these gentlemen do have the consolation of rank, for they are not mere construction workers but deconstructionists, an exalted station to which every Frenchman aspires.

My morning hours being what they are these days, I took the picture above just to be sure I hadn’t dreamed the whole thing. I wonder what will wake me tomorrow?