Jul 29, 2014

Irene Leaves Columnist Feeling "Powerless"

Thankful storm left only minimal damage locally, but yearning for electricity and the joy it brings.

Irene Leaves Columnist Feeling "Powerless"

In the aftermath of Hurricane/Tropical Storm/Pain in the Butt Irene buffeting us with high winds for a relatively short time, I am now entering my second full day without power at home. And I am not happy.

Our power went out about 10:30 Sunday morning. It had flickered on and off quite a few times prior to actually shutting down, so it was hardly unexpected. But when it finally went off – and stayed off – the full impact of living without the modern miracle of electricity we so take for granted truly sunk in.

Now, I know others are worse off. We are hardly Katrina-type victims here. We should be counting our blessings this storm only gave us a glancing blow. But what kind of born-and-bred New Englander would I be if I passed up a perfectly good opportunity to complain?

While you might think the lack of refrigeration and the inability to cook meals might be our most serious problem, in my case that is second to the fact I have neither television nor internet access. My 55-inch flat screen stares blankly yet accusingly back at me in our family room, almost like a pet disappointed you have not fed it. My computer and my iPad have both been charged via my car, but without my home network, the internet might as well be the moon as far as being reachable. Thank goodness for my iPhone, the one thing keeping me in contact with the cyber world and my email.

My wife and I drove around town during the day yesterday taking pictures and visiting friends and relatives. It took some time to get off our own road, as Maple Street had trees blocking it on both ends.  Eventually we wound up at home feeling the walls closing in. We talked for a while, listened to a short audiobook on my iPhone, and made some phone calls to the kids. Then we talked some more. Then a bit more. Soon we started laughing at the situation.

Having been married 34 years, we have learned to tolerate each other in many ways (her tolerance requires much greater effort than mine).  We decided to play cribbage, but couldn’t find our deck of cards. We argued about which candles we should light and where they should sit.  At one point we seriously considered breaking out my grandson’s Candy Land game and giving it a try.

Around 7 p.m. we decided to look for a place to eat. We soon discovered North Attleboro had power while most other towns did not.  We laughed when we saw cars at the Attleboro McDonalds lined up down the road waiting for the drive-thru. It took us about five stops before we found a place that would even guarantee us a seat before closing, but we did get a good meal and felt much better.

Then we were back home and preparing for bed. Both of us sleep with a CPAP breathing machine for sleep apnea, and with no power that was not happening. So we lay in the unnatural quiet of our house, until I had to find my grandson’s battery-operated noise machine and turn it on next to the bed. Then I slept with one eye open, convinced I would wind up snoring and discover my lovely wife leaning over me with a knife and a shovel.

The morning found me dashing in for a quick shower before what hot water was left dissipated. Then it was off to work early, since my office is in North Attleboro and has power. We also have a TV there – I was really going through withdrawal.

Now we wait for the National Grid crews to reach our home and restore power. We will survive of course, but I really hope it is soon. I can’t stand any more guilty looks from the television.

Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and a big fan of electricity.  He can be reached – eventually – at aninsidelook@aol.com.

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