Good thing I filled up my gas tank on Thursday night before the 90 mph winds hit and took down the operation of most of the pumps in the area. Too bad I didn't get around to replacing the emergency release mechanism on my automatic garage door opener.
Yes, I had gas, but my car was locked in my garage, hobbled by a dearth of electrons commanding the opener to awaken. I asked the neighbor with whom I share a garage if she had the key for the release on her side of the garage. She had lost hers as well. "Do you want to use my car?" This very kind, Russian immigrant neighbor, whom I don't really know that well, offered to let me use her car until the power was restored. Not only that but she was headed out of town in her truck and couldn't even be notified when I drove the car over a cliff...which I didn't do, thankfully. I have a thank-you card and some Panettone (Italian holiday bread) awaiting her return.
By midwestern standards, the winter weather here is very mild. That thought did little to warm me while sitting in my pitch dark living room on Friday night with my down jacket on and a fleece blanket over my knees. Sleeping was fine with two comforters. Getting out of bed was less fun.
Stepping outside in your familiar neighborhood in a total blackout is a total weirdness. It's entrancing and unnerving at the same time to see an urban environment in absolute unsolicited darkness. I wondered if burgulars were stepping up their initiative to take advantage of the cover.
The telephone land line wouldn't work because the wireless base had no power. The cell towers seemed to be anemic as well. I finally had to go to a local hotel in a pocket of light still in the 21st century to borrow some unsecured wireless so I could tell the world I was still alive.
So many friends had it much worse...they have little kids. I didn't have to listen to anyone's complaining but my own, which I'm quite used to. Some friends are still without power, while mine started flowing back into my condo yesterday morning.
There was a near riot at a gas station because someone thought it would be ok to fill about two dozen plastic containers while a line of customers an hour long stretched down the street and the station was running out of gas. Someone else wasn't havin any of that. The cops were called.
On Friday morning, I waited in line at a bagel store (the line at my usual Starbucks next door stretched out the door into the cold). Two out-of-towners were ahead of me:
OOT1: You probably live here, right?
OOT1: I've got a question for ya. With all of the streetlights non-functional and all this traffic, what's up with all the politeness? I mean, everyone is taking turns and no one is honking their horns; it's all so orderly.
Me: Yeah, that's just Seattle.
OOT2: We're from Philly and D.C. If this happened there, you'd have people zooming around and yelling and honking horns. Eventually a fight would break out...or two or three.
Me: Unfortunately, all of this politeness is evident whether there's an emergency or not. The bad part is that no one here knows how to merge so everyone slows down to politely let someone in and it backs up traffic for miles.
OOT1: Well, it's nice to see anyway.
I'm glad it restored his faith in humanity. And actually, Puget Sound Energy restored our faith in their service with remarkable rapidity. Nearly one million homes without power and by this morning, 3/4 of that was restored. Not bad.
The conversation among most of my friends was how wimpy we are. Two days+ in the cold and dark and we're whining about long lines and no Internet. Tell that to folks in New Orleans...or Baghdad.