We have had intermittent power outages since noon. Seconds with no power, just long enough to close all of the computers. Jeff and I had electricity for the last several hours, the support staff and printers did not. We have been evacuated once. The alarms have sounded twice. At four we were advised that the building would go dark in a half an hour.
C.E.I. may have been unable to fix the problem in four hours, but they didn’t need thirty minutes to shut us down. No lights. No phones. No computer. 4:15.
The frustration and futility of a power outage is not limited to any particular generation. My daughter in her late twenties is as negatively impacted as my mother (who is still 22, just ask her).
Not all frustrations are equally shared or even understood. Take the telephone. Everyone has a cell phone. Everyone is accessible 24/7. In a meeting? In church? No problem. There is always texting. I grew up in a different era, a time when powerless and frustrated was the way we felt as we tried to reach someone by phone.
Hello. How are you?
Have you been alright, through all those lonely nights?
That’s what I’d say. I’d tell you everything,
If you’d pick up that telephone.
High School early 70’s
Some of us were lucky. We had a telephone in our bedroom. The richest or most spoiled had their own phone line. Not having to fight your mom for the phone was a big deal. There were no answering machines, just the parents and siblings of the girl you were trying to reach. Message delivery was spotty, at best.
And yes, it was a girl you were trying to call. In the early 70’s, girls didn’t call boys, at least not for dates. We called. And the phone rang. Sometimes the girl answered. Sometimes no one answered. The phone rang and rang. How long should I wait? Ten rings was deemed appropriate. Sometimes someone else answered the telephone. Was she home? What if she was home, but didn’t want to talk to me?
But mostly it just rang.
Operator, let’s forget about this call
You see there’s no one there I really wanted to talk to
Thank you for your time, ah, you’ve been so much more than kind
And you can keep the dime.
The power is on at home. Leaving work early isn’t the end of the world. I think I’ll just sit in my recliner and call a couple of friends.