The Fan

No one listens anymore. I said no one listens anymore. To anything. Hell, you won’t even bother to read this tale of woe about no one listening anymore.

Photo: The Fan / James Porteous

18 March 2022 | James Porteous | Clipper Media News

Recently, the wee fan in the washroom of my small, one-room flat, meant to circulate air in lieu of a window, suddenly malfunctioned and starting running in one of two speeds: fast or very, very fast, for one or two hours at a time, four or five times a day. 

Think of the sound of a small motor running non-stop at full-speed.

In fact, as it turned out, it was the screeching noise of a small motor running non-stop at full-speed.

The noise was seriously unbearable.  I sent an ‘urgent’ email to the person nominally in charge (the landlord) and informed him that, not only was the noise supremely irritating, but I feared that the motor was running so hard, so fast, for so long that it might soon burst into flames.

He replied, eventually, saying: ‘If it bothers you, you should close it.’

Almost at once my fantasy of smashing the fan with a hammer transformed into a fantasy of smashing him with a hammer.

Harsh, I know, but I was already so delirious that I thought that, upon his passing, his replacement might actually offer to assist me.

And I was becoming frantic. The sound was now part of my very being. Even when I could not really hear it I thought could really hear it. And remember, this is a one-room flat. The only way I could escape the sound was to leave the flat!

Soon, the beach volleyball game of tossing the ball (me) around began in earnest (and trust me, it was the male version of the game, not the female one) as each new person I encountered kicked me along to the next person who did not care one iota about my plight. 

The Fan

‘Please!’ I wrote yet-again. ‘No one will help me! This is an emergency!’

I did not hear a peep from anyone until I received an email on Day 8 from someone informing me that workers from their company would come to ‘look into the situation’ 10 days hence.  But not to worry, they said. They ‘assumed’ that because my flat was on the top floor, they would be able to go to the roof to hear ‘the noise’ without having to disturb me.

I freaked out. Again. I wrote back, quickly and harshly, asking how in God’s name they expected me to to live with this situation for another 10 days!

‘Fine,’ the landlord replied. He and the caretaker would come by ‘to investigate’ the situation the next day around noon.

‘Thank you,’ I replied. ‘And do you think you can fix the problem while you are here?’

‘We shall see,’ he said.

Whatever the fucking fuck did that mean? I wondered.

But I let it go.

The next day, for the first time in 10 days, I felt real and true joy in my heart when at precisely 12:08 PM, the fan burst into high gear, just as it had done every day at that time. And 6:08 PM and likely once or twice throughout the night.

At the crack of noon I had excitedly removed the duct tape and the plastic bowl I had been using to try to at least muffle the sound and when they buzzed to get into the building I opened the front door and watched the three of them walk toward the horrid sound like dazed zombies after a free, all-you-can-eat buffet.

The Sound of the Spiteful Fan

‘What did you do?’ one man said.

‘I can’t hear you,” I replied.

The nominally in-charge-landlord looked as though he had been so perplexed about being forced to go out during his lunch break that he had dashed out without even putting on his pants.

‘What is this?’ he asked.

‘What do you mean, what is this?’

‘The noise. Why is it so loud?’

He did not know it, but the look on my face was telling him he was damn lucky I had not purchased that hammer.

‘It is the noise!’ I half-screamed above the noise.

‘Oh,’ he said so quietly I could barely hear him. ‘I thought you had said you were hearing voices.’

That is right. Instead of spending the 20 seconds it would have taken to read the entire initial message, 10 days ago, he had invested five-seconds and decided I was hearing non-stop, excruciating, ear-piercing… voices.

And upon concluding I was a raving, lunatic nutjob, he had simply ignored every single text, photo, video, sound-file or increasingly panic-stricken missive I had sent him, pleading for assistance over the next 10 days. 

In hindsight, it is almost comical to think of him half-reading the constant stream of follow-up notes, with me imploring him to ‘take action immediately’ to help me deal with the ‘increasingly dangerous and perhaps even deadly’ problem of hearing… voices.

‘No one will help me!,’ I had said. ‘This is an emergency!’

Sure, he must have thought. The voices in this Canadian clown’s head.


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