Okay, we were ready for our power to go out. But after a few days, I missed my hair dryer.
I love snow. I love the stillness of a new snowfall. I love seeing tracks in the snow, the little bird feet dancing silently in the lace of the unblemished surface, the pads of a raccoon echoing quietly going from here to there. It’s easy to become philosophical about nature when you are standing outside in the brisk air, watching your breath form clouds of steam, reminding you that you are in fact living, and connected to this world.
Then your power goes out.
Momentary panic is replaced with smug satisfaction as you remember that you had sense enough to bring the generators up from the barn, position them, and place extra cans of fuel at the ready. One by one they are powered up, and while your lights and fridge are back on, the stillness and quiet is gone, replaced by the roaring of machines meant to keep us comfortable and our lives convenient.
Our power went down Friday following the “big snow” here in east Texas. We were prepared and had everything lined up just in case. Extension cords stretched from the house to the generator like so many orange and yellow snakes. Extra blankets were put out; candles and flashlights adorned the dining room table. We were ready, well as ready as you can be.
When the power went down my husband went out to see if he could discern where the problem was, all the better to tell our would-be rescuers. He found that a fuse had popped on a line in the hay meadow. There was no downed line, just a disconnect. Once a crew got here, it would take maybe 15 minutes to repair.
We called the power company and after wading through multiple voice menus we finally got a person. My husband described the problem and then to complete the report the dispatcher asked for the location. That’s when the trouble started — they had no idea where we were, or how to get there. He argued with my husband about the location and acted like we were trying to pull a fast one. Eventually he took the report, but he wasn’t convinced we were for real.
A day later our power still wasn’t back up. We could understand that crews were being dispatched all over the county, but I have to admit to some considerable frustration watching one truck after another head down the highway, none even thinking about making the turn into the farm.
So we called the power company back, hoping to get an estimate on when the repair would be made. Apparently the first guy we talked to filed our call in the circular file and no report was ever made. So again with the same questions, who we are, where we are located, etc. My husband had to get a meter number to convince the dispatcher we were for real. That seemed to help our credibility a little, and we were told maybe power would be up in another 24 hours.
OK. We have a generator, but frankly I was getting tired of not being able to blow-dry my hair. You have no idea how devastating this is to a female native Texan — the bigger the hair the closer to heaven, and I was worried God might forget about me if my hair wasn’t constantly poking him in the eye.
So we waited. The hours ticked by and the roar of the generator became increasingly oppressive. I became more irritable than usual and my ears started to ring. My husband swears that he was beginning to hear voices and music in the din as his brain tried to make sense of the noise. That creeped me out, a lot, and I wondered if a new psychiatric diagnosis was needed like “generator psychosis.” I kept an eye on him, watching for any sudden change in behavior, like writing “redrum” on the walls in his own blood or using a hatchet to open doors.
Late Sunday afternoon someone showed up in an official looking truck to assess the problem. My husband had to meet him down in the hay meadow with a tractor to pull him out after he got stuck. However, the line got fixed (took about 10 minutes) and we discovered that the primary reason it had taken so long to get someone out was not because crews were busy elsewhere, but because no one but this one special guy, knew where we were.
The whole time this fellow was repairing our line he was on the phone giving directions to other crews, “No go down the dirt road to the right, don’t go to the left it’s too muddy. Go to the right. Follow the road, I don’t care what you think, just follow the road. Open the gate. Shut it behind you or the cows will get out, shut it. Yes, shut it. Ok, now look for the dogs….” And so it went. He looked like he hadn’t slept in days, and he probably hadn’t.
When you live in a rural area you more or less expect your power to go down in major (and maybe not so major) storms. What you don’t expect is to be ignored or lost by your power company. You pay your bill, they should know where you are, but apparently that is not always the case. If it hadn’t been for this one worker who knows how long it would have taken to get our power back up.
We owe this fellow a debt of gratitude and hope he was finally able to get the sleep he deserved. We sleep better now knowing we will never be lost again because this guy knows, really knows who we are and how to find us and that’s a nice feeling.
It’s even nicer to be able blow-dry my hair again.
I hope God didn’t miss me.