Tuesday, March 22, 2005

My Guide to Power Outage

It’s universal. The first things you do when you come home knowing the power is out are:
Try to turn on a light.
Open the refrigerator and look at the darkness.
Wish you could turn on the a/c.
Long for something to eat or drink that requires the use of an electrical appliance, any appliance. (This longing quickly grows to an intense desire for all kinds of things you would normally not consume at this hour, but which begin to appeal to you in new ways now that you can’t have them.)

Then you go from room to room stricken anew by the realization that everything you think of doing requires electricity. Ah! Can’t work on the computer, nope to scanning, forget making something to eat, TV is out, the only music will come from the songs in my head, can’t wash clothes (oh, what am I saying, there is no washing machine anymore anyway.) Too dark to read in here. Too windy outside. Time to call FPL for the outage status.

I found out we were a PRIORITY, so much so that they quickly connected me directly to a person who gave me a complete and well-rehearsed apologetic speech about how sorry they were to inconvenience me. It was a pretty long speech. I think following last year’s hurricanes and the irate customers encountered, they’ve hired professional counselors to gently stroke the customers’ edgy nerves. It’s like a crisis hotline now. I wanted desperately to tell the lady about my recent obsessive compulsive behavior and other psychological insights, but mostly, that I had just bought two for $5 ice cream and that Cally had also brought home a third not knowing I had made my purchase and it was melting, so they’d better hurry. You’ll be happy to know I held my tongue, said thank you and hung up. I doubted she cared that I just been to the grocery store and I figure, she’d probably heard the same ice cream story from everyone who called. Who doesn’t buy into the deal when Publix has ice cream two for $5. It’s a given, that’s why they were working so hard. They knew there could be an ice cream melt down the likes of which hasn’t been seen since last fall. The power was out from 10:00 this morning until almost 7:00 tonight. It’s kind of interesting that when you call, they tell you how many people are affected so you don’t feel alone. It really is a great psychological ploy. My first thought with an outage is usually, “are we the only ones?” I always call to find out the status and get the estimated time for power to be restored. It’s the not knowing that kills me. If they give me a deadline, I feel better and they always beat their predicted time. Another mastermind plan. And I’m pretty much okay with it as long as my whole block is hurting with me. And knowing that 2, 344 other customers are standing at the fridge trying not to open the door too gives me even an extra measure of satisfaction.

My neighbor came over to see if I knew what was going on. She had just bought groceries in bulk from Costco to stock up for the next 6 weeks while she isn’t going to be working because of her schooling. She was very concerned about her ice cream too and really wanted to open the freezer just once to check it, but I talked her down from that ledge. She said she felt compelled. I warned her not to do it. If you open the door you lose valuable freeze power and the electricity had already been off a very long time. She decided to be strong and took off to meet some friends without the ability to blow dry her hair before she left and without knowing the condition of her ice cream. Who says women today aren’t strong? We both had “hurricane hair” already. Deja vous-vous. Ahh, there’s nothing quite like a power outage to bring the neighbors together. It was like a hurricane season practice drill.

Right after I got home and realized I couldn’t do ANYTHING, I had the desperate urge to escape to some place via car, some place with pre-made food, like I might never get to eat cooked food again or like the house was uninhabitable without electricity. So weird. I decided that was stupid, so I tried to think of things to do that didn’t need power.

I devised a list of things you can do without power and it really boiled down to hard labor. I chose a broom and a swiffer. The gunky drain which I never did yesterday also made the list of power outage entertainment. But sweeping and swiffer dusting the floor, and wet swiffering after that took almost two hours, along with moving sprinklers, and tackling a number of stubborn weeds that I got sidetracked by while I was outside. Oh yeah, add yard work to the list of things to do when the power is out, and it’s cooler out there, esp. if your window is still cellophane wrapped shut. I missed the opportunity to fix the windows this weekend while it was under 80 degrees, with just cause... you know, the washing machine malfunction, which will most like remain on the disabled list for some time. So just as I was putting away the swiffer thingy, and gearing up to degunk the tub drain, Cally began clapping wildly and I heard the armoire door squeak open and TV sounds began to blare. She didn’t miss a beat getting the TV on. It had been hours of pure power outage pain for her in her room not watching tv and sweating because she didn’t want to open the windows (I don’t know, go figure). I immediately released myself from my contract with myself to degunk the drain. It’s been a long hard prehurricane season afternoon and I had done enough hard labor for one day.

FPL just called (well their computer voice man that is, hmmm, where did the nice counselor lady go?) to tell me my power was now on and that the problem was that a tree or branch had damaged an FPL line. Well, now that the power has been back on for TWO HOURS, it’s a great relief to find that out. And good to know that it only took them 8 hours to remove a tree branch from the line.

It’s gonna be a long hurricane season. Good thing my floors are perpetually dirty and the drain will probably still be clogged by then. I’ll have plenty to keep me busy the next time the power goes out.

1 comment:

  1. I can't remember my password, so I am anonymous, but remember this when the hurricane winds blow - get in your car and drive to Santa Fe, the weather will be perfect and we'll be waiting.


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