Today’s wind storm reminded me that things can always be worse. It does not help that I really hate wind — as does my dog — but this one, so far anyway, hasn’t been all that horrible, relatively speaking.
Then again, when I get home the power at my place may still be out. If that is the case, this column I wrote in the middle of a huge storm that hit the Wasatch Front in October of 1996 may become appropriate again:
No electricity can really put a drain on your sanity
You need to know right up front that it was not comforting, at the time, to know I had lots of company over the weekend.
MY power was out and I wanted MY power back on, and I wanted it on NOW.
And yet, I couldn’t get Utah Power to understand this.
They’d go on about how they had extra crews in from Idaho, and how there were tree limbs and power lines everywhere, and how they were working around the clock.
I didn’t care.
My bird was freezing her pinfeathers off; my kid, who’d just had his tonsils out, was staying with his aunt; I was shivering with the dog on the sofa and was seriously worried the Popsicles in the freezer were melting.
Smart, huh? It’s freezing, and I’m worried something will melt. I guess that’s part of the insanity that comes over you at times like this.
Judging from the thousands who called police dispatchers asking when the power was coming on (as if some poor underpaid cop would know), it was running rampant.
Call it the instantly insane syndrome. I went from patient, to angry, to demanding, to outright paranoid by Saturday evening. Is this because I was late with a payment in 1983? I’d say.
The power at my place blew at 10 a.m. on Friday. Ben was nursing his throat, I was telling him to drink his fluids, the bird was going chirp!
And then everything went Ffft!
I tried to call Utah Power and, of course, got a busy signal. So did all my neighbors. So did half the city. This did not help.
Why don’t they have enough phone lines to take 50,000 calls at once? I wondered. What kind of penny-ante operation are they running down there?
Things got cold. We covered the bird and farmed out the kid. My wife went to a local hotel where she was attending a convention and bunked with a friend.
That left me, rugged pioneer, to fend for myself.
I had interviewed people at the Red Cross shelter about how sensible they were to find a warm place to sleep. When the time came, I just couldn’t bring myself to cozy up on one of those cots.
I wanted to sleep at home. It was partially a health decision: All the friends I could have slept with had either cats or adolescent slumber parties, to both of which I am deathly allergic.
But mostly it was just cussedness. That was my house, with my mortgage, and, by God, I was going to sleep in it.
Saturday was not much better. I’d curse the cold, say soothing things to the bird and feed the dog.
Then I’d note that all the blocks around mine were brightly lit, say nasty things about the unfairness of people with power to waste and drive somewhere warm.
I really admire the Utah Power crews who, I imagine, had to put up with a lot of people like me.
Driving along Quincy Avenue Saturday night, I saw a power company truck pull into an intersection, stop, turn, back up, stop again, and finally just sit, halfway blocking the road, waiting for me to drive by.
It was one of the trucks from Idaho. The driver had a puzzled and lost expression.
I knew the signs: stuck in a strange town, tired from working all day, frustrated, just sitting still for a second wherever he was, letting the world catch up.
It was late and dark. The wind was blowing and I’m sure he was looking forward to climbing yet another tree to fool around with 10,000 volts. Probably near my house.
He, and all the people like him, worked their butts off and didn’t even throw wrenches at people like me. They turned my power on Sunday morning, mine and everyone else’s.
I went home, took a hot shower, got the whole family together and went back to normal life. My Popsicles didn’t melt and the bird was fine.
I am grateful, and feel a little silly now for going nuts.
OK, a lot silly. I hope the repair crews all got fat bonuses and hot showers, too.
But I still hope that, next time the power goes off, they get to my part of town sooner.
As, I’m sure, you do, too.