Power to the People!

Disaster strikes! Blackouts and debris scatter the landscape! Certain unnamed individuals (cough, cough) are ill-prepared for this particular eventuality. Film at 11.

Earlier this week, my hometown was hit by wayward bits of Hurricane Ike, touching down on various parts of the surrounding counties and laying waste to buildings, vacations, and dreams of one last day of doing whippits at the Denny’s parking lot half-drunk at three in the morning before the fall starts. The end result was that I had no power for almost (gasp!) three days.

Of course, I’m not above telling everyone that I’m pretty much a pussy when it comes to the matters of everyday convenience. So when we experienced the power outage, my first thought was thank goodness this will only last an hour or two; I can catch up on those things that I love doing and need to get done, such as sleeping and occasionally napping.

Of course, it became readily apparent that my electricity was going to be out for quite some time. A casual survey of nearby acquaintances gathered the following range of responses:

1) Dude, this will be like camping. Awesome!
2) I want to kill myself.

And, of course, scattered reports noted that the electricity wouldn’t be on for days, maybe even a week. This was unusual; even though the electric bill is high enough that it would still be cost-effective to pay for several teenagers to hand-crank electric generators hooked up outside our house getting paid union scale to meet our electricity demand, I still usually found their post-storm triage to be quite efficient. Granted, by “post-storm” I mean “post some stupid drunk hits what appears to be the only utility pole in our county delivering electricity about once every two weeks.”

Normal people, unlike myself, tend to think they can last through a crisis such as a power outage. This is an absurdity wrapped in falsity and smothered in temperate indifference. We all think that we can find some old classic literature or at least that issue of National Geographic about the Sudan genocide we’re supposedly going to get around to caring about someday, or maybe it’s a perfect day of talking a peaceful walk through the woods getting some fresh air and some nature cred. This is a dirty lie you tell yourself to let you sleep at night. Once the power goes out, you’ll be quite literally itching to be sitting in your La-Z-Boy watching Grey’s Anatomy instead of sweltering outside trying to keep up with your Proust.

So when there’s quite literally not much else to do, idiots such as myself have to create new and inventive ways to pass the time. I my own self came up with the following wonderful games:

1) Try to find my clothes in the dark
2) Try to get dressed in the dark
3) Try not to swear when I bump into furniture while getting dressed in the dark
4) Try not to swear when I realize I forget to charge my cell phone
5) Make mental note to write nasty letter to utility companies and their quasi-socialist organization, convincing myself that private-sector incentives would have given me power by now even though I know full well they’d just the standing around playing Elephant Walk instead of fixing the power lines
6) Curse the darkness, throw out candles

I can’t really complain too terribly much, of course. On the one hand, Western Pennsylvania is pretty much shielded from any kind of natural disaster except for the occasional ice storm and baseball season. Dealing with hurricanes is not exactly the type of thing they prepare us for in elementary school, focusing more on field dressing deer and protesting toll roads. So since it is a fairly rare occurrence, we’re somewhat justified in being unprepared for such things.

On the other hand, when you see the devastation like what occurred in Texas, having three days without power seems a minor inconvenience. While I’m denied warm showers and Lean Pockets for a day and a half, I wig out and start plotting the revolution, sliding my finger down the Blue Pages and taking note of who will be first up against the wall. People in Galveston and Houston have lost the opportunity to not move to Oklahoma for a month or two. They deal with it by rolling up their sleeves and actually working, which in Texas I suspect means actually dumping buckets of pure testosterone over the affected areas until they are repaired.

One of the strangest things about these hurricanes is how little affected Florida has been lately. It used to be that any tropical storm formed in the Atlantic booked a first-class ticket straight for Miami, ready to swipe away large swaths of property and infrastructure and cause the cost of black market firearms and cocaine to triple overnight. However, the last few years have seen minimal damage to Florida, at least compared to the south central region. One assumes that Mother Nature is taking a bit of pity on the Sunshine State, letting it stew in its own man-made disasters of swamp ass, Mark Foley, and Cam Cameron.

Anyway, the power was restored and all was right with the world. I can go back to doing what I normally do, which pretty much amounts to sleeping and occasionally napping. Wake me before the plague of locusts arrives.

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