A big ole’ storm blew through late Saturday, with winds gusting as high as 60 mph. In the early evening, there was the telltale flickering of the lights — the universal country signal to ‘save your work, shut down the computer and fill up the tea kettle with water so you can make coffee in the morning’, just in case. Its almost like God runs Windows — there’s always just enough time to save your work before it goes black.
The electricity going out doesn’t happen a lot here, but my road tends to get hit more often than nearby friends on other roads. My power goes down about 4, 5, maybe 6 times a year and the outages seldom last more than a few hours. The most exciting part of a power outage is that I get to call the NYSEG Emergency Reporting line — it is truly a technological marvel, akin, in my mind, to sending telephone calls through the air. You dial up, and it confirms your service address based on your telephone number. Then the voice searches through the records and confirms that "We are aware of a power interruption in your area. There are 48 customers affected. The estimated time to have power restored is 7 AM." I know, its all just computer databases with voice stuff on top, but I still get a kick out of it.
Power outages are quaint and charming for a few hours. I went over to a neighbor’s, we lit candles, shared a bottle of wine and chatted for hours. I went home, pulled out some extra covers (my pellet stove, without electricity, doesn’t work, so I didn’t have heat) and went to bed. I expected to be awakened sometime in the middle of the night with the house coming back to life after the electric came back on. (Its amazing how much noise all the stuff in a house makes turning itself back on.)
Morning came with no electric. And that nice NYSEG electronic voice now told me that the expected repair time was now 5PM. (This is the first time in a couple of years the power went out overnight.) I climbed back into bed with a book and a cup of hot coffee (tip to city folks — while all the electronic stuff on your gas range, including the oven, won’t work, the top burners usually will – you just have to light them with a match.) The first hour of reading was cozy. But when I pulled on gloves to keep my hands warm when I turned the pages, I knew it was probably time to bail.
The charming interlude was turning into a major inconvenience. I’d set today aside to answer emails and write the Current Market Conditions report. Sure, I had a laptop — and packed it up to go to a friend’s house who had coffee, heat and a high speed internet connection. But alas, what I needed to work on was on the desktop and I wasn’t about to load that and a monitor into the car, too.
What was lovely about the day was that having no power was kind of like having a major holiday, like Thanksgiving or Christmas. Could I have gerry-rigged things to keep on doing work I’d planned to do? Sure, I guess. That would have been Blackberry of me. I did stash my laptop in my backpack, and did check my email on my cell phone a couple of times. But mostly I spent the day visiting, drinking coffee and puttering. That was very country of me. And wherever I went, to houses of friends who still had electric, I was welcomed like a refugee from the Valley of the Blackout.
The whole day was actually kind of cool. It can be enlightening to have reality and routine interrupted The power’s back on now, the pellet stove is chugging away, I’m checking my emails and writing this post. Tomorrow I’ll get back to work.