In the dark…

Category: Blog — @ 6:00 pm June 30, 2008

It was setting up to be a huge weekend for music, maybe the busiest weekend of the year. Too bad I didn’t get to see any of it.

I just got power back at my house yesterday. I know, I know… Benson had plenty of power Saturday night — the street looked lit up like the Vegas strip compared to my darkened neighborhood. But you young folks who live in apartments or still live with your folks will find out that things are different when you own your own place. There was no way I was going to head out with my street still in the black, leaving my dogs to bump around in the dark.

I was too tired to go out anyway. We didn’t have any damage to our home, but large branches fell off the silver maple that lives next to our sidewalk. I spent most of the day Saturday hauling away a few hundred years worth of trees to the Locust St. drop-off point. We got the street cleaned up by the end of the day, only to go back inside to no power.

Historically, my street has always come in last place in terms of getting power back. There’s no use in complaining. OPPD is like how AT&T was in the ’70s — a service monopoly. You take whatever they give you and say ‘thank you’ in return. There’s no one to complain to even if you wanted to.

And really, after driving around with truckloads of broken branches and seeing the devastation, I had nothing to complain about. Just down the street, a house was covered beneath a fallen silver maple, it’s branches and leaves covering the roof and windows like a giant green curtain. Who knows what lies beneath it? Giant holes in the roof? Broken windows? By now, the enormous fallen tree on Saddle Creek just south of O’Leaver’s has become legendary. Everyone has seen it and the damage it’s done. It’s impossible to look at it and not think, ‘Well, at least nothing’s wrong with my house.’

Still as Saturday night rolled around and we were getting ready for another night without power, I couldn’t help but grumble. Without food at home, we sat in Applebee’s on North 72nd and watched Billly Preston silently sing on Saturday Night Live over a plate of cold, poorly prepared baby back ribs. Teresa picked through a flaccid bowl of noodles that would go uneaten. Applebees always looks good in the commercials but never fails to disappoint. We got home after 11, driving through hopping Benson, but I was too tired to make my way back to TWR for Broken Spindles.

With the weather being so cool, we didn’t miss the air conditioning. And frankly, I’ve never been much of a TV person, so we didn’t miss the flat panel. What I did miss was not having access to music. I still had my iPhone, but without a power source, I didn’t want to waste its battery listening to music. On the counter sat an unopened copy of Conor Oberst’s new CD, received in the mail that morning. It would have to wait until the lights came back up, which I assumed wouldn’t be until Tuesdays or Wednesday.

The last time we lost power was a couple summers ago after a strange wind blew through the neighborhood smashing trees and knocking down power lines. We went five days in the dark — the whole time, the neighbors across the street had power. We could see them living their lives in air-conditioned comfort while we sweltered in the 80-plus degree night heat and humidity, unable to sleep, cursing OPPD with every breath.

After Day Four, you realize that everyone else has their power back, and begin to think that they’ve forgotten you. KFAB and KKAR — your only source of information — has long since shifted from crisis updates to their usual right-wing talk show programming.

Five days seemed like five weeks. And I figured it would be just as long or longer this time. After all, the damage is much more severe in our neighborhood. But then Sunday morning at around 10, shortly after walking the dog, the lights came back on, while, ironically, across the street, they still didn’t have power and wouldn’t until this morning.

Funny thing about losing your power. The whole time you sit there in the dark, with food rotting in your refrigerator, the hatred for OPPD goes off the meter. But within five minutes after your power is back up, it’s as if it was never off. The rage just seems to disappear. Within an hour, you’ve thrown out all your rotten food and the temperature in the house is back to normal. You’ve put away the flashlights and the candles and have headed out to the store to buy more stuff. You go on with your life as if nothing ever happened. And that’s all good and fine, but remember one thing: There are still thousands of people around town who still don’t have power and are as pissed off as you were just an hour earlier. So for all of you reading this from Starbucks or wherever you’ve found a wifi hotspot and a power outlet for your laptop, know that you are not forgotten. Your lights will be back on… eventually.

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