Renovation: The Shores South and North Towers undergoing construction. Photo courtesy

For the last eight days, I’ve been under a little stress from construction noise at The Shores apartment building. Actually, a lot of stress as, among their tools, it sounds like they’re using jackhammers that, trust me, no earplugs can counter. Put it this way, if I answer the phone during the work callers think I’ve moved to the Middle East.

As I mention “jackhammer” I’m reminded of Mike Hammer, the famous 1940’s fictional private eye created by author Mickey Spillane. So, at least for ten more days of construction so close to my apartment that it jars me awake, I guess I’m Jack Hammer. (Sorry about that. If nothing else, this extreme noise might explain bad jokes and typos.)

The problem is considerable exterior plaster at the Shores is deteriorating. It’s understandable given this17 story building was erected in 1966. So management hired a company that specializes in this work known as “spalling.” They will remove the plaster problems and patch, seal and paint the entire building. The severe noise should be over by the end of March, assuming it isn’t my demise before then.

Just imagine a jackhammer ten feet from your bed. #Yikes! But first let me explain why I have alluded to Manuel Noriega, the de facto ruler of Panama from 1983 to 1989. In essence, he was “our dictator,” meaning we used him as an anti-Communist force in the region during which time he could seemingly do what he wanted as long as he kept commies at bay.

Actually Manny thought he and the U.S. were friends until we finally removed him. His surprised attitude was, “Hey, we’re partners, right?!” Then again, that’s what so many dictators have said the day we dragged them out kicking and screaming.

Noriega was facing a U.S. indictment for drug-trafficking and claims he had rigged the 1989 election. So President George H.W. Bush ordered a military invasion of Panama which was highly successful, except for the tiny fact it didn’t remove Noriega. You see very cleverly, Manny had holed himself up in the Vatican’s embassy in Panama City which we couldn’t very well level.

The next U.S. move was on Christmas Day 1989 when, our Christmas present was to begin a “torture campaign” of blasting heavy metal rock music designed to drive Manny nuts. A fleet of Humvees mounted with loudspeakers rolled in, and heavy metal rolled out. The playlist featured fitting titles such as “I Fought The Law” by The Clash, “Panama” by Van Halen, “All I Want Is You,” by U-2, and “If I Had A Rocket Launcher.” by Bruce Cockburn.

After three sleepless days and nights, Noriega folded like a beach chair. Meanwhile at the Shores, I folded on the first day. And I’ve got ten more days until they move the scaffolding and jackhammers to the north side of the building.

As for the jack-hammering it feels like a combination of machine-gun fire and root canals as it shakes the walls and makes critical thinking impossible. (As if I didn’t already have a problem in this area.)

The noise issues are vastly different than when I moved to the Shores in 1974. (I like to say I was in preschool at the time but I was considerably older.) The worst noise came from the 9 hole 3-par golf course below us from which we might hear the occasional ”fore.”

But sometime well before 1987 somebody at City Hall thought it’d be a great idea to rip out the golf course and replace it with tennis and basketball courts, build Sea Colonies to the North and South and open the park to the loudest amplified music possible. (Add to that 10K runs officiated at 7 am on Sundays by some clown with a loud bullhorn who always wanted to be a shock jock.)

I won’t get much sympathy because I live in a rent-controlled apartment with an ocean view and apparently this is the price I have to pay. But, to be fair, the Shores is amazing in how they fix anything wrong in my apartment. Often it’s done on the same day I call in a work order.

With regard to spalling, they rightfully insist the work has to be done and there’s no question about that. And they promise, once the construction is finally completed, the building will essentially be like new. (Frankly I would prefer the building essentially be like quiet.)

After the spalling project, management says they’re going to be making the following upgrades: new carpets; high tech sliding doors in the lobbies; beautifully refurbish the common grounds and wonderful spacious green areas. I say all that sounds truly terrific and I look forward to it, assuming, that is, they don’t use any jackhammers.

If he’s not too busy placing pillows around his ears, Jack can be reached at: