M r. Krankowitz was in a terrible temper. Workmen had started digging up the road on Sunny Lane just a few yards from his house, without so much as asking permission.

Of course he’d gone outside and yelled at them, but they insisted the city had sent them to carry out essential repairs to the underground water pipes, and they weren’t obliged to seek permission from the residents. The old man thought this outrageous.

He’d already called the mayor’s office three times, as well as the offices of the water company. But they were all a bunch of incompetent nincompoops as far as Mr. Krankowitz was concerned, and not one of them had lifted a finger to help.

The next-door neighbors, seeing the old man’s annoyance and frustration, tried to assist him as best they could.

Fishel and Faivish’s mother, Mrs. Friedman, for example, gave him a pair of earplugs to shut out all the noise of the digging. Unfortunately, these provided only a temporary respite.

The old man began to complain about the dust created by the works. This time, Mr. Faigelbaum stepped in, and gave him a protective face mask decorated with a pretty duck-egg pattern. The breathable mask covered his nose and mouth and filtered out dust and fumes. But this too gave only short-lived relief.

Mr. Krankowitz now claimed that the sight of the workmen in their fluorescent yellow jackets hurt his eyes. Kindhearted Mrs. Morris from across the street immediately brought over a pair of sunglasses.

Everybody hoped for a bit of respite from all the bad feelings now that the old man was kitted out in earplugs, face mask, and sunglasses, looking like some kind of strange creature from outer space. But it was not to be.

Mr. Krankowitz started to rant about the vibrations caused by the men’s digging. He stood outside his house, shaking his fist furiously at them and telling them exactly what he thought of them. As he was still wearing his face mask, though, the words came out as, “Mmph hmph pmph.”

The foreman tried to find out what exactly the old man was saying, but with his earplugs in, Mr. Krankowitz’s hearing was even worse than usual. The foreman scratched his head in bafflement, which only enraged the old man even more.

This time, his words sounded like this:

“MMPH HMPH PMPH!”

As his face got redder and redder above the face mask, Mrs. Morris, who was watching from across the road, began to worry that the old man would work himself up into a dangerous fit. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 676)