Yesterday around 3:30, I was finishing a file conversion on two stray files that a client had just sent for an immediate turn. In the middle of the conversion, everything stopped – in sort of a weird slow motion. The screen went dark, the AC wound down growling softly as the fan slowed to a stop. And suddenly everything was quiet. I grabbed the laptop and jumped in the car to the closest wi-fi hot spot to get this project delivered.
During the 3 block drive to the Kensington Cafe, I listened to the radio and heard caller after caller from all parts of the county calling in to say that their power was off too. The dark traffic lights at Adams and Marlborough made it clear that the power was off here too. So I headed back home and used my droid to let the client know that I was not going to be able to deliver those files for a while.
The rest of the evening was wonderful! I checked in with my mom at her assisted living community and she was taking it like a trouper. Driving over would have been a nightmare, so she told me not to worry. So I took a walk and saw people gathering in front yards talking with their neighbors – heard happy chattering on patios – smelled BBQ grills – and ran into people I hadn’t connected with in a very long time. Invited a girlfriend (whose husband was stuck downtown in the crazy traffic) to come over for a cocktail and conversation on the back deck among a sea of lighted candles.
After she left, I contemplated filling some stock pots with water in case the power stayed off for a long time. I also mentally went through the contents of the refrigerator and freezer in a half-hearted attempt at planning what should be cooked first. I didn’t get far in my planning, instead I found a spot in the backyard where I could do some star-gazing and simply relaxed quietly for a while. Sleep came easily because the heat wave had snapped and the night was cool. I awoke when the ceiling fan started whirling around and glanced first at my electric clock – flashing – then at my cell phone to find out what time it was. 12:20.
I went back to sleep knowing that in the morning I would be able to finish and send the files. Although – since the theory at the moment is that an employee tripped a 500-kV transmission line that runs from Arizona to Southern California and then other safeguards failed, I should be a bit more proactive in my emergency planning. With all the strange weather – hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, fire, tornadoes, etc. – (not to mention the horrible possibility of terrorists attacking the power grid) – there will probably be more power outages. For most of us these days working without electricity is a real challenge. But surviving without electricity is possible – if you are prepared.