I’m finding out that the older I get there’s so much more to learn than I ever thought there would be. I’ve often told my dad that, the older I get the dumber I feel, and most days I mean every word. Surviving Sandy was no exception.
I’ve lived through hurricanes before. This wasn’t my first evacuation either (and if I never have to do it again that’s fine with me). But there’s always room for another first.
I’ve always considered myself a tough person, kind of, when a lot of people tell you something, you start to believe it.
Up until recently my dad was an engineer for a major power company; I grew up knowing that having electricity is a right as well as a privilege.
I learned at an early age that there’s no master switch at your power company that someone uses to turn your power back on.
Going to work with dad often meant hanging out with a crew of linemen and bringing them coffee.
During major outages when it’s “all hands-on deck” my dad even worked as a lineman.
My parents (although largely my dad) have always stressed being prepared. Although a situation may not always be ideal do everything in your power to make sure you can in fact survive.
During my service orientation the concept of “no energy days” was brought up. I thought it was an interesting idea, but I was already giving up internet, cable, and who knew what else at that time. I didn’t want to jump on the bandwagon before I actually moved into the house or talked to my housemates.
Sometime later and over dinner we discussed bills. It was suggested that one person in the house handled the bills. We agreed, but also wanted to be kept in the loop. I for one didn’t want one person telling me what I could or couldn’t do just because they paid the bills.
“No energy days” were appealing. We were all curious as to how far we could stretch ourselves in certain areas. The volunteers from the year before had “no energy days” regularly; I figured we could do it too, and better (although it wasn’t a competition, my brain often made one between the two groups).
I don’t remember many of the details of our “no energy day,” or how many we had. But when it came down to it it didn’t make much of a difference to us as a community, we were already unplugging things when they weren’t being used, we embraced, the fireplace, wearing layers and blankets before turning to the thermostat.
I also lived with a Montanan. For those of you who have never lived with a Montanan let me explain to you just how this impacts your life. They’re like the boy scouts on steroids, at least from what I’ve experienced.
And repercussions of such never leave you; like deciding to stay home in freezing temperatures because you have a mummy bag, plenty of stored up water, reading to catch up on, and a headlamp to read by.
Fast forward to Sandy. Honestly, I should’ve been able to handle it better. I have the skills and the know-how. Living without power, for example, for an extended period of time isn’t ideal but its doable, people survived without phones and TVs and such for hundreds of years after all.
Somehow in the personal debriefing of the situation, and unpacking, and organizing, a thought crosses my mind.
Choosing to go without has a purpose behind it, like self-discovery or solidarity or simplicity.
Going without do to circumstances beyond your control requires more out of a person. It requires just one more thing for you to do without, but it’s the biggest thing most people don’t want to give up.
Next time you find yourself going without, in whatever form that takes, may the choice be with you.
One More Thing: Next time you have a power outage & you see a crew of linemen out there working to restore your power bring them some coffee (or a thank you card). They not only work hard but long hours (12-16 during major outages) & many of them wouldn’t dream of doing anything else.
*A similar version of this post was written on November 13, 2012