Friday, June 8, 2012

Darkness Descends and Quiet Reigns

I never realized the noise electricity makes. I am sitting alone in my house without any electricity. There are no sounds from the TV, microwave, dishwasher, washing machine or dryer, refrigerator or ceiling fans. There are no voices, beeping, humming, whishing, or recycling sounds.

There are no lights from electric bulbs, TVs or digital clocks. The only light comes from my laptop, my cell phone when I open it, and my flashlight should I turn it on.

Day One Without Electricity

I returned home in the early afternoon after completing some errands and attempted to get a drink of water.There was no light on the crush/ice/water signs on the refrigerator. I thought the fridge was broken. Then I spotted the TV. It took a few seconds to realize the red light was off.

Over the years I learned things break when hub is away. Here was another time I could not drag him away from his computer or cell phone to handle the problem. This could not wait until he returned home.

I found an electric bill – I knew the account number would come in handy - and called our electric company. The company responded quickly and sent a repairman to investigate the situation.

The news was not good. The repairman could not repair anything.

A nob on our meter box was hot and sparking. He said we were lucky it did not happen at night – there could have been a fire. The situation was dangerous and he proceeded to turn all our electricity off. A new box and cable would have to be installed. The electric company, however, was not responsible for fixing the problem. We needed a private contractor.

Relaying the information to hub, he provided the name of the company to contact. By this time it was late afternoon. The contractor’s answering service informed me someone would get back to me that evening or the next morning.

I faced two problems. One was dinner. The second was a low laptop battery. (You get an idea of my priorities.) I did not want to be far from home in case Electrical Guy came.

Walking to our neighborhood pizza parlor one block from the house solved the problem. I ate dinner while my laptop charged.

No contractor calls all evening. 

Day Two

In the morning the contractor finally called and said someone would be over within the hour. And Electrical Guy actually showed up.

The news was not good.

Before the company could begin work forms needed to be completed and submitted to the electric company and the city. The city would issue a permit for the work. Now we were dealing with a bureaucracy. Bureaucracies are not known for speedy service. I believe their motto is, “Better later than sooner”.

“I probably won’t have electricity tonight, will I?” I asked Electrical Guy.

“Probably not, “ he answered. “But we will try to expedite the process so we can complete the work as soon as possible.”

I did not ask the cost. I did not need more aggravation and anxiety. There was no choice. The work had to be done.

I had a full day planned and no reason to stay home. I left about 10:00 a.m. and returned home 7:00 p.m. Friends went for a quick dinner after our day’s activities (more about the events in a later post) and I joined them. I have plenty of fresh veggies at home and a barbecue grill. I can make a salad and grill veggies tomorrow.

Late afternoon I was notified an engineer would be out in the morning to inspect the situation.

My last stop was the public library. I wanted to check my email before reverting to pre-wifi life. Hub called and said I better check the icemaker; if in the on position water would continually flow and eventually spill onto the floor.

Visions of a flood on my wood floors triggered panic. I immediately headed home and dashed into the house.

No water gushing on the floor. The hook on the icemaker was in the off position. We were lucky. However upon opening the freezer I got a whiff of something ugly…

My freezer is now empty, the food victims of the electrical outage. I should have thought more about the food, but I was hoping for a quick electrical fix. Ironically I recently began a concerted effort to use freezer fare, making room for foods my kids and grandkids will eat this summer. There was only one package of chicken and no other meat in the freezer. Again I was lucky.

I spent the rest of the evening in darkness and quiet. I can survive a long time without most modern electrical conveniences. But I miss my wifi.

Day Three Without Electricity

I went out to the garage this morning to get my bike and ride to the bagel store. I keyed in the keypad code. Nothing happened. Then it occurred to me – no electricity. Of course it did not work.

No bike and no garden supplies. So much for the day’s activities.

About 9:00 a.m. two electric company trucks and three employees appeared in front of my house. Standing on the sidewalk, walking around and nodding their heads, talking between themselves, they surveyed the situation. I gambled and asked if the electricity could be turned on long enough so I could get into the garage. One guy said,

“You have another door? You can get in and disconnect the keypad.”

I may be a candidate for Tech stuff or Electronics for Dummies, but if there were another way into the garage of course I would have used it. How dumb do they think I am?

Finally one of the men said, “You can get the work done now. Let your contractor know.” Which I did.

I am now at the public library taking advantage of free wifi, checking email and charging my laptop battery.

Hopefully Electrical Guy will arrive at my house soon.

Hub will be home in time for a late dinner. If lucky we will hear the whirr of electrical appliances by then. Otherwise we will enjoy dinner by candlelight. 


  1. You have my sympathy. When our power is out we don't even have water (we're on a well). Was it really expensive to fix? I hope you're up and running now.

  2. Fritening how much we depend on electricity. Hope your day gets better. Dianne

  3. Electricity does indeed make sounds we don't usually hear until they are stopped. This is a pretty unusual situation, but at least it's in the process of being fixed. Maybe by the time you read this it will be at home on your own wifi! Fingers crossed. :-)

  4. Except for the annoyance and all that, the silence might be kind of nice.

  5. It's taken me until Monday to read this post. I hope you aren't still in darkness! And, though I wish this had never happened at all, I'm glad you had the best of all possible weather situations in which to endure it.