April 12, 2024
2 mins read

“Trailers for sale or rent, rooms to let 50 cents, no phone, no pool, no pets, I ain’t got no
cigarettes. Ah, but two hours of pushing broom, buys an eight by twelve, four-bit room,
I’m a man of means by no means, King of the Road.” I can hear Roger Miller’s voice
singing in my little radio head. I was a wee child but I still remember and if you’re my
age, you probably will too.

I used to live next to the Bide-a-Wee Inn in Pacific Grove and what made me think of
this song was two solid, not-so-wee morning hours (no exaggeration) of a confounded
blower going full decibel, right on the other side of my fence. Ain’t no four-bit rooms
there! More like $170 a night on the low end and I wondered how the guests were
handling the crazy noise on their vacays. Oh, what I wouldn’t have given to hear the
pushing of a broom.

I went to Yelp to see if there were any comments from anyone about this sort of aural
intrusion. What I found was one guest complaining that the birds were too loud.
Seriously? You come to a beautiful area surrounded by trees, breathtakingly close to
the Pacific Ocean and the sound of the birds bothers you?

I prayed for patience. I even walked over there with my non-resting witch face on to see
if I could find the gardener who was making all the racket. Nothing was working. I
finally donned my noise canceling headphones which helped a bit, but I could still hear
the painful droning along with Roger singing in my head. It got me thinking about what
we can and cannot control anymore, like blowers and the sounds of other people in
close proximity, near but not dear to us.

I had an upstairs condo in the Bay Area years ago. It had been an apartment complex
in its former life. My floor was the neighbors’ ceiling, and I did my best to keep the noise
down and remove my shoes when I came home. Unfortunately, when I bought the
place, I had no idea that the residents below totaled six in the same square footage as I
occupied above them. The voice of the matriarch could have cut through steel and
raised the dead. I never heard any other voices but hers, especially her rude, daily
reveille at 4:00 am on her phone calls to her Chicago relatives. My Mom wouldn’t even
spend the night at my place while I was traveling because of that voice.

When you own a condo, you only own the air space. I never understood this, but I
guess the concept dates back to ancient Rome. I mean whose space is this anyway?
Slap a few walls around something you can’t see, sign a contract, and call it yours. I
happen to enjoy mine with a shot of quiet and a twist of meditation music.

With rents rising 10% a year for the same tenant and exorbitantly more with a new one
the daily calculation is catching up to the hotel nightly rates. It’s at least two-grand for a
four by twelve studio no bigger than a hotel room. Can’t smoke no cigarettes and can’t
have a pet, just like the song. Time to put a leash on a tardigrade. They are cute, small,
and no one can see ‘em. It’s almost cheaper to choose the hotel option. Plus, there is
free breakfast, internet, utilities, and maid service. Maybe I will become Queen of the
Road and sing my song.

If there are indeed multiple dimensions, can I get some help from the other occupants of
my space? And do any of them still carry a broom? After they sweep, I’ll ride it,
tardigrade in tow.

Robyn Justo is the author of The Expiration Date and Losing Locality. She is a freelance writer in Pacific Grove, California. She has written for the Macomb Observer, Senior Wire, Hopelessly Romantic, Kinetics Magazine, Go60, Living Aloha, and various other newspapers throughout the country. Robyn was a sales and marketing executive in the high tech and advertising fields for many years. For a necessary balance (and to keep from tipping over), she has always had a foot in both the spiritual and three-dimensional worlds.

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