Power outages don’t have to equate to panic

When Hurricane Sandy hit my area in 2012, every neighborhood except mine lost power. Some houses didn’t have power for over a week, but the lights in my house barely even flickered. That’s why when we lost power the other day during a storm, my family assumed it would be back within the hour. We were a wee bit wrong, and it didn’t come back until 24 hours later. This was my first real power outage, and even though dedicating a whole blog post to it seems a bit dramatic, the past day of my life has been really uncanny. Without trying to find too much deeper meaning behind it, I just wanted to talk about some of the weird events of the past 24 hours of my life. 

I don’t think I realized just how dependent on electricity I was until the other night. I don’t know how our founding fathers wrote the Constitution in unbearable summer temperatures, because I swear,  AC is just as responsible for the production of this post as my brain is. I also realized that no matter how willing I am to take showers with cold water, showers with no light are pretty much impossible. Worst of all, the organic turkey breast I spent too much of my parents’ money on the other day started going bad when our fridge stopped working (I’ve never written a more 21st century, privileged, first-world problem sentence in my life). We rely on electricity for pretty much everything in our daily lives, and it’s pretty terrifying that we panic the second we lose it. Obviously there are people out there who don’t have the privilege of calling PECO and complaining about their power going out, for these people don’t have any power in the first place. Getting to experience a fraction of this stress by living in their shoes in this sense was really humbling. 

To add onto this stress, I needed to figure out how to essentially break into a house last night (clickbait, anyone?) In reality, my neighbor/friend and her family were in Chicago this week, and I was going to their house a few times a day to watch their dog. I usually open the garage door and then manually unlock the door behind the garage door to get into their house to dog-sit. Obviously, a power outage means you can’t open a garage door unless you’re able to yank it open somehow. Long story short, doggo needed her food, and I ended up breaking and entering via window. Fun times. Unfortunately the doggo wasn’t as amused as I was because she was still de-stressing from the scary storm. 

As I was breaking and entering, my dad was talking to some of our neighbors. One family didn’t have their front door keys and needed to get in to see their own dogs. Their only way in would be to get in through the window on the second floor. They needed a ladder but didn’t have one, so my dad went asking people in the neighborhood and eventually, my next-door neighbor agreed to graciously bring his ladder over. By the time we got back to the worried family’s house, over 20 people from our tiny neighborhood were gathered around the house, watching the homeowner try to get in with a smaller ladder. After taking the ladder that my next-door neighbor brought, the homeowner was finally able to get in and greet his poor doggos. The whole group of 20 watchers applauded and cheered loudly. It was so weird because even though we live in such a small neighborhood, no one in this group knew each other for the most part. The man who brought the ladder introduced himself for the first time to the man who borrowed it. As much as I want to say that it was a reminder to get to know your neighbors, I think that sentiment is a bit unrealistic. We all live such busy lives and revolve around different circles, and as adorable as it would be if we lived in the kind of neighborhood where everyone knew and loved everyone, I think it’s touching enough that during times of trouble, there will always be a select few neighbors who show up and provide support. Some people will refuse to help (like one neighbor who straight up said he wouldn’t let them borrow his ladder), but others will lend you the helping hand you need. This doesn’t necessarily make the former person a jerk and the latter person a hero, for we can’t ever judge someone’s character by one action. All that matters is that there will always be some kind of support system you can rely on. 

Later in the night, we went to my parents’ friends’ house to re-charge our phones and take a break from the stress of the night. Usually when we go there, I spend most of the night on my phone since most of their Russian banter goes right over my head most times (I’m not perfectly fluent anymore). Since I had to keep my phone charging in the other room, I couldn’t just fill the whole evening with Instagram scrolling, and it was oddly therapeutic. My parents’ friend read us the letters he sent his parents during his time in Israel, and instead of drifting off into my own thoughts, I actually listened and took in everything he was describing, from the work schedules that revolved around a million different meals, to the friendliness of all the Israeli passer-bys. It was still relatively difficult for me to understand every word he was reading, but nonetheless, I was happy that the power outage allowed me to go to a place where I was lost in something other than my own thoughts. 

We left their house at around midnight, and went straight to bed when we got home. I didn’t spend much of the next day in my house, so I barely noticed the power outage until we came home at around 4 pm and noticed that all our lights were back on. 

And that, my friends, was the most exciting thing that’s happened to me so far this summer. I know a lot of people were really upset about the outage, and obviously it created a lot of problems, but there’s a certain sense of adventure that comes with navigating life without power, even if it’s only for a day. In this sense, I’m glad I didn’t get to binge watch all the episodes of New Girl that I was planning on watching the whole night. Not that I’d necessarily want another outage to happen anytime soon, but I wouldn’t be completely against the shake-up to my routine life. 

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