Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Forward Slash


One of the concessions made in the sometimes-turbulent weather of summer is the wicked thunderstorm…often swiftly accompanied by the frustrating plunge into darkness that is: The Power Outage.

Oh, joy. It doesn’t happen often…but when it does, besides becoming immediately stupid and flipping every light switch on as I enter a room, I’ll become restless and bored after approximately 47 minutes. This seems to be my personal limit. This is immediately followed by being either too hot or too cold…(why is it that outages never occur during a breezy, gorgeous, low-humidity day?) and if it’s dark, I become the illumination-equivalent to claustrophobic…but instead of freaking out at an enclosed space, I’m suddenly in desperate need of massive amounts of light.

By this time, I’ll assume you’ve concluded that we lost power recently…that some of it occurred while it was dark and that I did a share amount of whining. Check. You guys are so smart.

Actually, I’d initially thought that I was responsible for the loss of power. No, I’m not that self-absorbed…but I’d just turned on my room air conditioner and I thought it was a pretty big coincidence. I’d assumed we’d blown a fuse. After a few choice expletives…and a frighteningly-extended moment of amnesia where I couldn’t seem to remember where the circuit breaker box was located…Connor & I discovered that this was not my handiwork.

We broke out the playing cards. He whooped me at Gin Rummy. He whooped me at Crazy 8’s. He whooped me at War. He suggested checkers…but I was getting tired of getting my ass kicked by a 13-year-old. I have my dignity.

By this time, it had been about 47 minutes…give or take a few. It was getting dark and I’d had enough. I decided to call the electric company to alert them to this important fact. Maybe if they knew I was done, they'd turn the power back on.

Electric Company Recording: “If you are calling regarding your home address, please press 1.”

I press 1.

ECR: “If you are calling regarding a life-threatening potential gas leak or downed power wire that is spewing hazardous combustible sparks in every direction and your very existence is in considerable and unquestionable jeopardy, please press 1. Otherwise, press 2.”

Visibly shaken, I press 2.

ECR: “If you are calling to report a power outage, please go to double-you, double-you, double-you, dot power company dot com, back slash outage, forward slash n-o-n l-i-f-e t-h-r-e-a-t-e-n-i-n-g….or hold for the next available customer representative. (Pause) Your approximate hold time is…(voice change) thirty-seven-minutes. (voice change again) Please hold…”

CLICK.

We got the power back about 10pm that night. In honor of the return of the light, we boogied to The Electric Slide....then went our separate ways, back to our respective computers.

Ah, family bonding. Ya gotta love it.

What’s your M.O. when the power goes out? Do you hit the mall? Take a nap? Read with a dying flashlight?? Do tell.

Lynn said...

OK. This calls for a power-outage story. My hubby had invited a couple of guys over for dinner. I was eight months pregnant and said yes (first mistake.) The second mistake was proceeding to go into labour a few days before the dinner invitation. The third mistake was telling hubby on the day that I was to return home with baby that it was OK to have his friends over still, since I would be upstairs recuperating after the surgery anyway, so no biggy. He would just have to be responsible for feeding and cleaning. Night of dinner, I'm upstairs. Everyone downstairs having a good time. Power goes out. Pitch black. And EVERYONE had forgotten I was there. Mother-in-law (who had come into town the night before I unexpectedly went into labour. Coincidence? I think not), niece, brother-in-law, husband, and two guests. I can't move very well after the c-section, but manage to stumble about in the dark for a candle so I can see the new baby enough to nurse her. And although I called, softly so as not to wake the baby, nobody heard. And there I lay, in the dark, hungry and hurting for THREE HOURS.

I don't recommend this course of action when the power goes out. Just saying.

And I've probably told you this story before. I still need some therapy, obviously.

Vince said...

I have a few bags of tea-lights. 50 to the bag. So I turn the place into something aircraft can see. And given that I'm using energy saving bulbs I've more light with the candles for reading.

Monica said...

I love that the power company wants you to report your power outage online....um how will you be doing that with no power?! LOL If the power goes out here during the day I like to leave because, like you, I get bored very easily!

Carol said...

Usually my first thought is that a serial killer has cut the lines so I can't see him as he is about to kill my. Then I drink all the wine so it won't go bad due to lack of refridgeration. It could happen.

diane rene said...

my first thought was like Monica's ... report it online? not everyone on the planet has a super savvy smart phone (and some of us do but fail to use them correctly).

glad you survived the outage :)

KellyGrrl said...

I always light some candles and grab flashlights... I'll sit and try and flip through a book or magagzine and then the thought will pop into my head that I am bored and should play on my computer or watch tv.... I always realize what I'm doing as I reach for my laptop or the remote..... ugh..... haha

Adele said...

Oh my dear goodness, I have so much stories to tell about losing power. I just happen to live in the middle of forest in the middle of a small island in (but not in the middle of) a small European country. During the winter there are often storms that take our power away. And usually it's not back that night...sometimes it's not even back the next morning. This means boiling the water for coffee on the stove (not the electric one(oh that was a smart notice)) and candles, candles everywhere. On the worst cases even the whole island has been whitout power (that means about 10 000 people) so everytime we lose power, we hope that it's gone in our school, too. But usually, that's too good to happen. I only remember getting away from the school because of a power outage once. But I did do my homework ( a report on snowboarding) once and I was just getting information from wikipedia when the power went it's own way...luckily, I was using a laptop so it stayed on and the wiki page that was open stayed open as well...so I wrote my homework by candlelight,only with the information from wikipedia. I still don't know if my teacher really believed me or not. I somehow think not.

Kimberly said...

We don't lose power often. It might flicker on and off occasionally but it is rare anymore that is stays off for any great length of time.

The last time I remember on outage is a few years back when the hurricane-force winds blew through PA. We were w/out power overnight. The kids were a bit freaked out because a branch had broken off outside the boys' room and scared them, so we hung out in the dining room for a bit with candles and my iPod turned up full blast. Once the kids calmed down enough to go to bed, we did. Listening to the howling winds. Woke up the next morning and had our power back. Others in the area weren't so lucky, but we've got a couple different power companies around here. Apparently ours is better. :)

Gigi said...

You KNOW my most recent story about not having power....but did I ever tell you about the time we lost power for a WEEK! Right before our major Christmas Open House? And the power didn't come back on until 2 hours before the guests were to arrive?!

Yeah, that totally explains why I get sooooo antsy (read: insane) when the power goes out!

Mark Price said...

Living in the plains, our power is out pretty much all the time. Summertime it is due to high winds, lightning, drunken hillbillies wiping out power poles, and tornadoes. Winter outages are due to ice storms, or wait for it...yep, drunken hillbillies wiping out power poles. It is so common here that life pretty much goes on as usual...unless I am at the liquor store and their cash register quits working. Then I grab my beer and run out the door cause I'm pretty sure the alarm won't work either.

Stephanie in Suburbia said...

Wahahaha! I love when they refer you to a website. In a power failure. I mean...really?

I get total ADD when the lights go out. I just feel totally disconnected and isolated. And I'm sure people will come down my random suburban street and ransack me.

That may be caused by watching too many horror movies?

sage said...

I take it as a sign that I am due for a nap! Or, if it is winter, I light a fire in the fireplace and pour myself a drink.

You're right, it's either cold or hot and humid when the power fails.

Lauren said...

We had a brown out a few years ago. It lasted three days and we had no power for that time. I was getting ready to destroy my family. Did lots of reading and writing. We also played board games when it was dark outside. God it was awful... I need power. I will admit it.

Kristen said...

Did they seriously expect you go to a website to report a POWER outage? What if you only had a desktop and not a laptop? Reminds me of when I was helping my mom trouble shoot a problem with a printer that would not print and the instructions from the website had a link for the "printer friendly version". Oy with the poodles already. I also blew a fuse last week while plugging in a lamp and was able to find the circuit breaker and figured out how to fix it myself (yes, not that hard to do, but still, a newbie I am).

Hope things are going much better post-power outage!

Tinkerschnitzel said...

The worst was when I was 7 1/2 months prego with my oldest. We had a tornado come through town and wipe out the power lines. We were without power for 3 days. In June. In Texas. I was miserable to say the least and spent most of my time in the bathtub.

Now, if it's nice out then we'll just go to the park or hang out outside. Otherwise, light a fire, have a cup of coffee or hot tea, and read a good book.

Slamdunk said...

Funny.

I get schooled by my 9 year old at such games so my future looks bleak.

We still play lots of board games so when the lights go out, we can work those in with no ill effects.

Spot said...

I have tons of candles all over my house but finding a match or a lighter is sometimes a big issue. Because being that prepared is not in my nature. If it's winter and cold, we troop downstairs to the boys room where the fireplace is located with lots of blankets. Then sometimes we play board games by candlelight or read. If it's not freezing cold...we play dark hide. It's hide and go seek in the pitch dark. Fun? Yes! Scary? Yes! Dangerous? Oh hell yes!

But we have lots of good memories (and a few scars) from these fun times. Lol.

♥Spot

snoble24 said...

i read or use the portable dvd player and watch something if its charged.or i pace around going stir crazy.i dont like power outages ether

Dreamfarm Girl said...

I'm impressed that you made it through so many card games. Good mom! When the power's out, if it's daytime, I read or do the crossword puzzle (assuming the outage is due to bad weather). If it's night, I watch the storm or go to bed. I apparently lack imagination or sense of adventure.

Heather said...

First I go blindly jamming my toes on everything in my way to get to the candles. Then I check to see if it is just me or the neighbors too. If out of my hands, I call it in, then dig out my crocheting. For some reason our power outages have always happened at night, so far.

HulaBuns said...

Usually I start looking for a flashlight, which my husband collects and apparently hides - so, I can't find one anywhere. Then I get mad about him collecting flashlights and me not being able to find them. Then he gets mad at me for getting mad at him about the flashlights, starts to look for one and apparently has hidden them so well, he can't even find them. Needless to say, power outages are not fun around these parts. :)

Jen said...

I light as many candles as I can and get out the flash lights. I'll try to read for a while until I get bored. Then I just crawl under the covers.

Lou said...

We had an outage the other night too Kathryn, luckily though the lights flickered so I grabbed candles, matches etc just in case. About 10 seconds later, the power went out. Rory and I both adjusted laptop settings to 'power saver' and played solitaire and tried to spook each other until the power was restored about half an hour later. Phew!

Jerry said...

I try to look on the bright side of things....oh, not exactly 'bright', but positive. I think about how much electricity I am not buying and how my bill is going to be so much less...and it never is.

Lily Johnson said...

We are used to power outage here in Nigeria so i just light a dozen candles and go to bed with a torch beside me. The power company's gotta be kidding, go to their website?? like seriously? Glad you survived the outage Kat dear.

Lily Johnson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wendy Blum said...

After candles are lit every place in our house, we play our board games. We color, we laugh, and spend time together without all the electronic stuff that now manipulates every aspect of our lives on a normal power day. Just enough family time to remind us we are still a family, lol.

kathryn said...

Lynn: Honey, I don't remember you're sharing this story!! Good Lord....I can just imagine you calling softly, "Helllllppp? Someone? Anyone? Hel-lo???" Of course, they probably forgot about you because the baby was so quiet...had she been shrieking, I'd like to think they'd remember you were there! God, you probably re-live that night every time you lose power. I know that I'll think of you every time it happens over here.

Vince: Wow! I'll bet it's tres-romantic, as well. Can probably be seen from space, huh?? Tea lights are the best...they last for several hours and then they get tossed. Plus, you can still read. Perfect!

Monica: I KNOW! That's the first thing I said! But the wait was just too freakin' much to share this with a live person. I'm sure they know, anyway...they just don't want to deal with the likes of us irate in-the-dark-once-again customers.

kathryn said...

Carol: Ha! I love your logic. First, there's a serial-killer on the loose...so, drink! Hey, there's nothing worse than wine that's gone bad. (Actually, I would not know this. It never gets to that point in MY fridge!)

diane rene: So true! I now have a habit of going onto NYS Gas & Electric to "report the outage" from my Bberry. It's based more on principle than anything else, 'cause I'm annoyed as hell.

KellyGrrl: Yes! That's exactly what happens to me! Then I feel really stupid....but bored at the same time. On a bright note, it's how I discovered that there's a YouTube for the Blackberry. Connor & I watched Jerry Seinfeld to standup comedy. Hilarious.

kathryn said...

Adele: Wow! That's some serious power outages! We've only lost power like that once in the last 7 years or so and it was torture...and I can't remember it ever affecting the schools. Maybe they have an emergency generator. Too bad...'cause Connor would loooove for school to be cancelled!

Kimberly: Aw...the poor boys. That must've sounded so scary with that scraping branch. I could easily see that freaking them out. Yeah, my sister never loses power...she just loses her cable, internet & phone. I guess they're all different.

Gigi: Woah. 2 weeks?? Did you leave? We lost power once for a weekend...and we were outta there! It was the middle of winter and we blew thru all our wood. Then we were outta there!

TC said...

The last time we lost power it was an ice storm, I was by myself, gathered the dogs nearby, lit the kerosene lamp and read Stephen King. No one ever said I was overly bright which I realized about reading Stephen for about 15 minutes, alone, in a deserted icy world with tree branches breaking around the house...did I mention I was alone with a kerosene lamp? LOL

kathryn said...

Mark Price: Oh, joy! What a powerless feeling that must be. (Get it?) Damn those drunken hillbillies! So, do you regularly wait for a power outage to hit the liquor store? C'mon...you can tell me...I won't tell anybody.

Stephanie in Suburbia: I don't know, sweetie...you seem to be in good company with that restless, someone's out to get me reaction to being thrown into complete and total darkness. Me? I'm just glad I'm not the only one!

sage: Ain't it the truth? It's never a gorgeous, perfect morning when the power goes out...then, we wouldn't even notice 'cause we wouldn't even be HOME.

kathryn said...

Lauren: Me too, sweetie....me too. I am simply not cut out for no power. I guess that's why I don't like camping...unless it's a site with indoor plumbing, no bugs and cable. But, I guess that's a hotel, huh?

Kristen: YES, they seriously expected me to contact the website with no power. I've also had the cable company offer the same resolution when I've called to report that there was no internet. SOMEONE is not thinking this through...

Tinkerschnitzel: Wow. That sounds...extremely uncomfortable. I'm glad you had water, though...in some places, they have well water and the pump is run on ELECTRICITY.
I cannot read by candlelight...it's not bright enough for me. It's infuriating.

kathryn said...

Slamdunk: Does "no ill effects" mean that you can hold your own w/said 9-yo and not get your butt whooped? Good for you, if you can.

Spot: Oh, that's great! Now, tell me: Do you still play dark hide now that the kids are older? Or do you sense that eye-roll...even in the dark? Ouch...lots of pointy sharp objects...and WATCH OUT FOR THE STAIRS!!

snoble24: I can't get my portable DVD player to work, or that's definitely what I'd be doing too. It's time like that I wish I had a generator!

kathryn said...

Dreamfarm Girl: Yeah. The daytime is not so bad...even if it's crappy outside. It's the night (dark) that gets to me. I get so stir-crazy and keep trying to WILL it back on! Hope you're enjoying your road trip, sweetie!

Heather: Yeah...why is it always at night? I feel like it's a punishment then. I have my routines for bed, ya know....and how do I set the alarm and watch Two and a Half Men? It's simply not fair.

HulaBuns: Ha! And I'll bet that when hubby DOES find the flashlights, the batteries are DEAD. That's classic at our place, so then we have to go pilfer them from another item. You'd think I'd just buy extra batteries....but noooooo.

kathryn said...

Jen: Yeah...that's a plan. You don't get antsy? God, I get so antsy. I get tired of holding the flashlight to read...I'm wondering if anyone's trying to call me (I have cordless, electric phones and I'm afraid to drain my cell since I can't recharge). The list never ends!

Lou: Oh, you were lucky! You had a pre-warning....plus it was only 30 minutes! I can DO thirty minutes! Do you know that I never learned how to play solitaire? I'll bet I'm the only one on the planet.

Jerry: Nope. Never see a decrease on the bill. I even inquired as to how long power has to be out before you can claim spoiled food from the fridge (the time we'd lost power for a whole weekend). Turns out, it's like, a week. A freakin' week! Seriously??

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