The Night the Lights Went Out

I wish there were some interesting stories to share, but being in the suburbs throughout the entire blackout is a rather dull experience.

The power went out around 4:11pm. At the time, I was searching through the garage for a portable battery-powered radio to accompany my midday swimming. I was scrounging through the piles of junk in the garage when I heard: “Did you knock out the power?”

It was the middle of the day, I was outside, and the sun was shining bright, so a lack of electricity was hard to notice. I checked and, surely enough, it was gone. Fuck. I hope I didn’t knock something over.

A minute later, the neighbour peeked over our fence and asked whether our power was out too. I nodded, concluding that it was definitely not my fault, and I went swimming. Screw the search.

I chilled for a while, but after three hours I was getting mighty sick of the lack of electricity. I plucked some batteries out of various remote controls and put them into an old portable television. That’s when I finally learned of the full extent of the outage: the whole province and a bunch of states were completely powerless. This is going to take a while.

For the next three hours: I tried watching the news, but the reception was choppy; I got out the GameBoy Advance and played some classic Golf; got on the laptop to listen to some music and play some games (DoDonPachi on MAME!) for as long as the battery would allow (not too long); and, finally, grabbed my sister’s discman along with some speakers and listened to Radiohead. Even though the power was completely out, I amused myself entirely with electric devices. sigh. Dependent am I.

My father came home just before dark. Took him nearly four hours to make the commute because: the car ran out of gas and had to be ditched as all the gas stations were powerless and, thusly, were not pumping any gas; he had to bus across the whole city; and it was rush-hour on a day when everyone was trying to get home. He wasn’t pleased.

Fearing that some of the food in the refrigerator might spoil, we set up an impromptu barbeque featuring various meat products and baked potatoes. By the time it was done, the fire of the barbeque was the only light visible, save for the multitudes of stars in the sky.

Everyone has already raved about the night sky during the blackout, and it was certainly impressive to see that many stars from within the city, but it wasn’t overly spectacular. Driving north for forty-five minutes will yield an equally extraordinary view.

Once that novelty wore off, I went to sleep. Early. Really early. Really absolutely nothing-to-do-in-the-dark early. At moments like that, it would have been nice to have a girlfriend.

I woke at a quarter to four in the morning. I had been dreaming electric dreams where everything was powered and buzzing. No surprisingly, waking up to complete darkness was a downer. As I was trying to get back to sleep, almost prophetically, the lights came on.

Various lights around the house (and the television) were somehow left on, so I got up to turn everything off. In the kitchen there was a lousy stink. Various refridgerated products did, as anticipated, spoil. It wasn’t the best smell in the world, but I was tired and I wasn’t about to start cleaning the fridge out, so I left it for the morning. So I went back to sleep, and woke up to a wonderfully powered house. Wonderfully powered and wonderfully hot and humid.

Since then, I’ve been struggling with the pains of energy conservation. Oh how I miss the air conditioner.

So, for the sake of posterity, there’s my boring blackout story.

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