The Roundup -

Left In The Dark Again


October 14, 2020 | View PDF

When life flows along as we expect, we take electricity for granted. The refrigerator hums along on its own, a flick of the finger lights up a room, water splashes out of the tap on demand, and we enjoy hot showers whenever we require them. Coffeepots perk up their amazing brew each morning and our satisfaction knows no bounds.

However, when the power flickers out, we are jolted out of our complacency in half a nanosecond, especially if one gets caught in the shower, or heaven forbid, the power goes off about the same time my husband expects to pour himself the first cup of coffee for the morning. The lack of coffee brings the biggest heartbreak for my husband, because without his java to chase away the morning grumpies, he turns into a curmudgeon and starts the morning exceedingly disgruntled and out of sorts.

Where we live, we seem to experience power outages four or five times a year. Some of these little glitches last a few minutes, while others last for hours, and occasionally these outages stretch into an all-day marathon before the electrical workers complete their repairs that allow our microwave clock to tick back on, the refrigerator to emit its soothing purr, and life on the mountain to return to normal.

For the most part, we are prepared for power failures. We can cook on the wood stove during the winter and on the barbecue in the summer. We have solar lights for illumination, along with candles and oil lamps, and we can access cold water any time we have the need. The two biggest inconveniences for us during an outage would be refrigeration in the summer, and of course the horrifying thought of no morning coffee for husbands in dire need of a morning pick-me-up.

This August we just happened to have two lengthy power outages about a week apart, with both losses of electricity commencing in the early morning hours. The first time it happened, I heard the WiFi box beep, telling me it had just lost power, and I heard the fridge abruptly click off. I glanced at our electric alarm clock, which of course showed me a black screen, so I flipped open my phone and saw it was about time to get up and NOT make coffee this morning. I nudged hubby, told him it was time for him to get up, as he was working for the Heritage Commission over the summer season. I also then announced that the power had just gone off.

The first words out of his mouth were, “What, no coffee?” That set the tone for the morning. I then phoned the power company to let them know we did not have power. The chipper-voiced lady on the other end of the phone, after I gave her my name and location, proceeded to tell me that she could not find me, she had no idea where we lived, and was I sure we bought our electricity through her company.

Funny, I didn’t know I was lost, I knew precisely where I was, I pay them every month for the privilege of occasionally sitting in the dark with no power, and I could not believe that she could not find my location. I assured her that of course we bought our power through her company, and I finally trudged up to my office to find my account number from the last bill, and Voila, she found me in an instant. Amazing.

My husband left for work in a less than cheerful mood. None of the eateries in Virginia City opened before 11 that day, so there was zero chance of my husband finding any coffee to satisfy that caffeine craving.

The outage lasted nearly all day. Naturally we had 99-degree-in-the-shade weather that day, so I refrained from opening the refrigerator in order to preserve all the coolness possible. Other than that, I really didn’t notice the absence of electricity.

One week later, we lost power again. Again, I had just looked at the clock, knew it was time to get up and get the coffee started, when the clock went black and the WiFI box chirped. I thought, “Oh no, here we go again.”

I reluctantly woke my husband, told him it was time to get up, and that the power had just gone off. Talk about reliving history, only this time his language was somewhat stronger than it had been the previous week. I heard nothing but whining about the lack of coffee until he stomped off to work.

About that time, our neighbor phoned. He had just had a generator system wired into his house the previous day, and he wanted to know if we had power. I told him no, that I had already advised the power company, and that my husband had left for work in a disagreeable mood.

A few minutes later my neighbor phoned back. He gleefully told me his generator system worked well and that he was presently enjoying a steaming cup of delectable hot coffee.

That particular electrical outage only lasted a few hours. A lineman for the power company drove up to our place to check on the lines, and I mentioned to him that we still didn’t have power. He knew that, but all lines need to be checked before the electricity gets powered on, and he told me it would likely be another hour or so before I had power again.

I thanked him for the information, and then remarked to him that I would be happy to offer him a cup of coffee, but unfortunately, I didn’t have any electricity.

I plan to buy a percolator that works on the wood stove so when this happens over the winter, I can at least perk some coffee for an old man who can’t get his day going properly without that jolt of java.


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