Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Electric Avenue

In the three years I've lived in this house, the power has gone out maybe a dozen times, usually for only a few seconds, but never for longer than about half an hour. So last Thursday night, when the lights flickered and then went out around 9pm during a frenzied thunderstorm, I lazily found my flashlights and candles and turned off the switches that had been on, figuring I'd head up to bed, wait for the power to come back, do a quick check to make sure everything had come back on properly, and then call it a night.

When it got to be 10pm and the power wasn't back yet, I called the power company... on my land line with a rotary phone, which, surprisingly, navigated the touch-tone menus well enough to get me what I needed. The nice lady at the other end told me that the linesmen on scene thought they'd have power back by 1am. This was a bit of a shock, because it never takes that long, and it got me thinking about what might've happened. Lines and transformers are quick fixes, even when there are a lot of sites that need attention (as was the case that night), so it had to be fallen trees that were causing the delay. I thanked the lady and went upstairs to try to sleep.

At 2am I was still wide awake, and the power was still out, so I called again for an update. The lady said, "well they said they'd get it done by one, but... ohhhh, it looks like they encountered some complications. I'd give it a few more hours." Hours. Okay, then. I went back up to bed, pondering the possibilities. "Complications" probably meant multiple trees that hadn't just pulled down lines, but poles as well. I didn't envy the linesmen working in the muggy darkness, but I was thankful they were out there.

I managed to get a little bit of fitful sleep, awoke a little before 6am, found the power still out, and called again. This time the lady said it would probably be mid-afternoon by the time power was restored. I asked whether the neighborhood in which I work had power, and she said it looked like they did, so I got dressed, had breakfast, and went off to work a little early, taking my tablet with me so I could check email before punching in. On my way, I passed the road with the lines that supply power to my village, and there was a "no thru traffic" sign at the end of it. "Aha," I thought, "there's our problem."

I have an old-fashioned answering machine, the kind that only works if it's plugged in, so I had an easy way to remotely check on the power situation at home. I called home a little after 11am when I took my lunch break, and power was still out. It must've come back on a few minutes after I called, though, because I got out of work early and came home around 2:30pm to find one of my clocks telling me that power had been restored three hours prior. I made sure everything was ship shape, and then took off for the renfaire.

I took that road that I'd passed earlier (the sign had been removed by that point), and kept an eye out. I spotted two big trees that had fallen across the road and been cleared, plus at least three new poles and evidence of a transformer having fallen, ruptured, and caught fire. No wonder it took them fourteen hours to get it all fixed!

And y'know, with the exception of my well pump and my fridge, I didn't really miss the electricity much. I like the convenience of it, but I can keep busy and get quite a bit done without it, especially during the warmer and brighter part of the year. All the same, I hope it doesn't go out for that long again. The disruption in normalcy made it awfully hard to sleep!

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