Wednesday, 20 February 2008

With the lights out!

When I was younger and lived in Arizona, the power would usually go out during a summer thunderstorm. My family would gather in the living room with the few candles we had and the huge camping flashlight and sit there, doing nothing. The power outages would last maybe one hour to three at the most. Maybe sometimes longer, but I can't remember. These were fun times for us. I couldn't tell you why, but there is nothing like a power outage to bring the family together.

Yesterday we had a power outage at Victoria Hall. Except it wasn't windy or raining. And it was just our hall that lost power; the two dorm halls behind me still had their power. The city around us still had power. It was strange, but fun at first.

At first when the lights went out at 6pm, I thought my lightbulb went out. I was watching a DVD on my computer so I figured that's what happened. Soon I was able to push past my blonde moment and realize that my laptop had a battery to run on AND it was impossible that both my desk lamp and the light on the wall conspired together to go out at the same time.

I picked up my cell phone and used the backlight to poorly guide my stumblng steps out into the hallway to make sure I was not the only one to be plunged into sudden darkness. There I found my flatmate Cindy checking the fuse box and Ama dashing into her room to gather her flashlight. It was really a power outage! This isn't the first time its happened to us; however, the power flickers we've been exposed to previously never lasted for longer than a minute. We concluded we must be the only flat without power and opened the front door to find light in the stairwell. Problem was, all the flats across the way were dark also. And then our neighbour came out to see what was going on. Her power was out and so was everyone else's.

Me and my flatmates gathered in the common room and stared at each other. Conversation was hard at first. It was not a normal power outage. At least, for me it wasn't. I mentioned my memory of power outages and no one seemed interested. I left it at that.

Eva stumbled into the flat an hour later and began panicking. She's a student teacher and needed to make her lesson plans for the next day. She soon left us for the Information Commons. The only amusement she brought to our situation (before her departure) was the fact she went out into the hallway and expected there to be light, burst back in saying "I can't see!," grab a candle and dash off.

By 7.30, I was falling asleep. Ama and Cindy were hungry. We decided to go to Pizza Express. I went along to contribute to more witty conversation and to see if they had dessert. I ate ice cream while Cindy and Ama had pizza. Cindy fell asleep as she was eating her pizza. It was quite amusing.

But not as amusing as sitting in the living room with your parents, watching the lightening roll through the black sky.

We returned home and played Taboo by candle light. Our evening started to pick up--despite the fact we did not have electricity--but by 11pm we were tired. That's right, I went to bed at 11pm. I don't think I've done that since I was ill. Or in high school. Ama spoke to the porter to see what was going on before I went to sleep and reported to us that an underground power cable burst and the engineers weren't coming our way until 10pm. OH MY GOD! Cindy's friend John (who lives in our complex and came over to play Taboo) thought it was a conspiracy. He's quite the conspiracy theorist.

I was able to get ready for bed by the LED light on the back of my phone (without stubbing any toes, thank you very much!) and I soon fell asleep. I was awoken at 7am when the porter came in to flip on our fuse box. I silently gave a shout of glee and settled back to bed.

After that whole experience, I've decided I don't like power outages. Our food all went bad (and I had been grocery shopping that day and the day before with new food in the fridge and freezer) and that was a lot of money lost. I don't think the stupid energy company or the dorm hall understands how much money I lost! And how much good food I lost! I lost microwave chips, for Pete's sake. Chips! My favorite food besides ice cream. Oi!!

When I was younger, I never paid attention to the politics of a power outage. (Yes there are politics to such an event) I used to sit in a candle-lit living room and do nothing with my family. It was like the only time we would come together as a family. Maybe that's why I liked it so much. Now, being without power is like being tortured by an enemy in a dirty POW camp. You can't open the fridge or freezer because you'll let the cold air out. You have to toss the food in the fridge/freezer out if the power is out for over three hours. It's impossible to see where you're going or know who you are in all that darkness. Thinking of things to do that does not require power during an outage is horrible. Relying on candles that may burn your house down is nerve-wrecking. You can't access the internet or use a cordless phone. And all you can do is go out to eat or go to sleep. Yawn.

If this happens again, I'm going to find the cause of the problem and fix it myself. I hate power outages.

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