The power went out at 5:22 p.m. yesterday. I know the exact time because my electrical service provider told me in a recorded telephone message I was able to receive only because I still have two hard-wired, corded phones in my house for use in just such an emergency.
The sudden burst of quiet--no air conditioner, no computer, no refrigerator--alarmed Levi and Gimpy but not me. I turned off the air conditioner so it wouldn't be damaged by a power surge, fixed the dogs' supper to distract them, and ate my own dinner: the tuna salad I'd planned to have for lunch today.
The message from the electric company had stated that they expected to have power restored by seven--before dark. Good. I took the Doodle boys outside to play ball and pass some time, then came back in and considered what I could do next. I was disappointed that I'd just finished the last unread book in the house, but I had a new logic puzzle magazine and games to play on my iPad. A phone call from one daughter and a text from the other informed me that their power was out, too, which let me know that the outage was spreading and might not be repaired as quickly as originally estimated.
Seven o'clock came and went. It was beginning to get dark in the house, so I opened all the blinds and all the doors, put a flashlight and a camping lantern where I could find them easily, and settled in for a wait. The dogs were happy, going from door to door to keep an eye on the neighbors, and I was content working on my puzzles. Eventually, I turned on the lantern. The dogs went to sleep, and I switched to playing Free Cell on the iPad. At one point I looked up and noticed the red light on the DVR, indicating that my shows were being recorded. How could that be? I wondered. I decided there must be some way the DVR was drawing power through the cable wire, something I hadn't known was possible and felt pleased to learn. How cool is that? Yay, technology!
For at least another half hour I sat there on my usual end of the sofa. By nine o'clock the darkness outside was complete. I was beginning to feel conspicuous and exposed in the dim light of the lantern, so I got up to close the blinds and the doors. As I stepped to the front door, I was shocked to see bright lights on in my nearest neighbor's house. How come his power had been restored and mine hadn't?
I closed the door, looked out the window once to make sure my eyes weren't deceiving me, and thought about it for a moment. Only then did I notice the quiet hum of the refrigerator. There were no lights on in my house because I'd never turned them on. The DVR had been recording because the electricity had come back on forty minutes earlier and I'd been too stupid to notice it. Dadgum it!
My Uncle Joe, who is only seven years older than I, used to tell me all the time when we were kids, "You might be book smart, but you don't have any common sense at all." He's the first person I thought of last night when I realized I'd been sitting in near darkness for no good reason. This proved his point. Don't tell him, y'all.