Monday, September 6, 2010

When the Power Goes Out . . .

by Kate

When the power goes out, I get crabby.

Happened last night at 2:30 a.m. But first, the overhead light on our ceiling fan came on at full blast, dragging me out of deep sleep. My first thought was that someone had broken in and was shining a flashlight in my eyes. Then everything went black. Naturally, my writer’s imagination went into overdrive.

My husband was awake by then and assured me that it was a simple power outage. So I stumbled my way to the dresser to get an emergency flashlight to keep by the bed, then went back to sleep only to be awakened half an hour later by the ozone meter beeping. Loudly.

Then it stopped. So hubby and I went back to sleep. Then it started up again, and this time, it wouldn’t stop. I couldn’t get the battery case open so I buried it beneath pillows in the guest room, shut the door, then went back to bed and tried to sleep, except then that darn meter was still audible. Like Poe’s “The Telltale Heart,” I could hear its steady but faint “beep, beep, beep,” even with a pillow over my head.

The fun didn’t stop there. In the morning, there was no coffee. No hot water, either. Even if there had been, I couldn’t wash my hair because I couldn’t use the hair dryer or curling iron. No light in the bathroom. No toaster, no blender, no TV, no Internet. We lit the gas range with a match and made eggs, toasted bread in a skillet, and had tea instead of coffee. It was totally discombobulating.

Next up was the garage door opener. Hubby was able to do it manually, fortunately, or he would have been stuck at home....with me, the crazy lady who really, really wanted to wash her hair.

I could see neighbors standing in the street trying to figure out what had happened, and later learned that our entire neighborhood was out. We still don’t know why. The power finally came on mid-morning, and life went back to normal, but I was left with a sense of foreboding of what could happen if someone evil chose to disable the country’s power suppliers.

What would we do? Certainly, cell phones would help, as would wireless computer connections, for as long as the battery in each device was charged – and then for only as long as they lasted. And then we would be crippled. Businesses couldn’t operate. Electric trains couldn’t run. Cities would grind to a halt. What would we do?

It’s too huge to even wrap one’s mind around. So, on a smaller scale, what electrically powered item would you be most lost without?