Sunday night there was a power outage in my neighborhood that reached to Anderson and the surrounding community. Power outages were the kinds of things my late husband took charge of. When you’ve lived three-quarters of your life without that responsibility, dealing with these kinds of emergencies alone presents another opportunity for “personal growth.”
When it happened, I was unphased. I was going with the flow. My house maintained a comfortable temperature, I had flashlights and lanterns, and food that didn’t require me to open the fridge. But it was when daylight came around without an update and no idea of when it would be back on that my calm and confidence started to wear down. A friend on Facebook learned it could be as late as the afternoon before power was restored, pushing it closer to 24 hours without electricity. In an effort to be productive and distract myself, I typed some reports using the battery life on my laptop and was relieved to learn that the entire city of Navasota wasn’t affected.
As the minutes ticked by, I realized I needed to do some long-range planning concerning food in the fridge and freezer. On a mission now, I dressed using the battery-powered light from my makeup mirror and prepared to head downtown for ice and coffee. I had a plan. I was still in control of my world as much as I could be.
But then I realized that my car was inside the garage and I had no idea how to get it out to go buy ice! That calm I possessed began disintegrating. I reached out to a friend via cellphone to walk me through how to disable the motor and manually open my garage door, but I became unnecessarily snippy! When it didn’t work, the “Negative Nelly” in me took over and it wasn’t pretty. But just as the drama of the moment peaked, the Heaven’s appeared to open because the light in my garage came on! Twelve and half hours later, the longest outage I’ve experienced alone was history, allowing me to take care of important business - like making coffee and using the curling iron. Isn’t it amazing how a person’s mood and manner can change in an instant? Well, mine did, and I felt like a drama queen and very annoyed with myself.
In the scheme of disasters during my lifetime, 12 hours without power is nothing but that wasn’t always the case. Having walked the walk with someone whose life functions depended on reliable power, I vividly recall that kind of angst. The threat of a power outage creates a lot of anxiety that in turn exacerbates the need and dependence on the power source.
I remembered the survivors of Ike and Harvey who lived weeks and months without electricity, but the self-recrimination didn’t end there. I thought about my ancestors who built Texas without electricity and decided I must be a mutation of that pioneering spirit.
Twelve hours without “Reddy Kilowatt” during my childhood was a bump in the road compared to today. Our homes and businesses are built for an electric world, so commerce is brought to a halt when our machines don’t have power. And without our coffee and the internet, we get cranky!
Progress is absolutely wonderful, that is, until we get those inconvenient reminders that we are the puppets, not the puppet master…so keep your batteries dry and welcome to life on the power grid!
Connie Clements is a freelance reporter and award-winning columnist. She writes feature news articles on a weekly basis and an opinion column as the mood strikes her.