The power of power

By John Toth / Editor and Publisher

I’m feeling great, getting home from the gym. It’s going to be a good week, I’m thinking. I step inside the house, turn the light on, and nothing.

I turn on another light, nothing again. The refrigerator is off, the oven is not letting me know what time it is.

That’s just great.

It’s a strange feeling being in a house without power. It’s very quiet. Nothing is humming. There is nothing to do except to get on my phone. What if the power never comes back? I better stay off Facebook and email and just call the power company to see what’s going on.

It’s been awhile since power went off at the house. The last time it happened I was sitting in my office working on The Bulletin when I heard this loud bang, like someone shot off a gun nearby. Then the lights went out.

There was no shooting. The capacitor blew again on the transformer behind us. It had happened before, and usually a squirrel pays for it with its life.

That hasn’t happened since I had the tree near the transformer cut back. Now the squirrels have a harder time reaching it to commit suicide by capacitor.

I wasn’t home when the power went off this time, so I don’t know if we had another capacitor suicide bombing. The last time it happened, the repair crew came out in 15 minutes, reached up to the blown capacitor with a long pole and dislodged it, along with the squirrel.

Then they snapped a new one in place (capacitor, not the squirrel), and power was back. Those guys know their business. I wonder how many of these they do daily?

I’m calling Texas-New Mexico Power Company’s 800 number. I have it programmed in my phone. A nice computer voice takes my information and assures me that my power outage notice has been received.

Now what? How long before it comes back on? Probably not very long. What if they forget about me? I’m calling back. Another computer voice assures me that power will be back no later than three hours from now.

That’s a little better. It will probably come back earlier than that. The nice voice always pads that a little. I used to be able to talk to a human being when I called, but what can I say? Progress can’t be stopped.

I’m preparing to start up the RV generator and a backup generator that can run the refrigerator, just in case. They needed to be run anyway. The RV generator comes on right away. Good thing I worked on it recently and put a new battery in there to crank it. The backup generator, which is much newer, is not budging.

It does that when I leave it standing for a long time. I’m double checking all the settings and keep cranking it.

When we returned in our RV after Hurricane Ike in 2008, the house was without power for a day or so. We were lucky that it wasn’t longer, like in some areas of the county.

I remember how awkward it was that night. No TV, no lights other than a candle or two and flashlights, dead quiet all over the neighborhood, except for a generator or two humming in the distance. I went to bed early and got up early.

The next day I moved the action back to the inside of the RV and made breakfast tacos for the family and some neighbors. It was well-received, to say the least. The RV saved the day, just like it will have to do now because, if power doesn’t come back quickly, I’ll be moving my office in there.

All that cranking pays off, and the backup generator comes on. Now it’s time to plug in the refrigerator.
I walk through the kitchen, wondering what time it is. My wife notices that the refrigerator is making a noise. The clock on the oven says 2:31 p.m. That’s nice. Plenty of daylight still left. I hope the power company finds the problem soon. It takes a few seconds.

Sigh of relief.