The Oh So Nice Blackout of 2003
So yesterday I was out during the day. I got home around 4ish and on the way up the stairs I heard my phone ringing. I caught it just in time. It was a friend of mine and we chatted it up for a minute or so when my cordless phone suddenly started blaring static. It was so loud my ear was shocked. I tried to change the channel but it didn't do anything. So I got mad at the phone and hung it up... hard- to like reset/punish it- but the phone kept blaring static even while hung up. I was like WTF with this fruckin fone! Then it clicked off and the noise stopped- but the speakerphone started making a low growly noise. I like listened in close because it was like a low buzzy growly. Weird noise. Then I pulled my head away from the phone because I thought it might explode. I picked up the handset and put it down again. And all the noises stopped. I felt my head starting to swirl with the storm of hassle. I couldn't believe I had yet another phone issue.
Then I went into the other room and turned on the light. It was out. I'm like WTF!!! I looked at the tv and I saw that the cable display and vcr clock was out. And then it started clicking into my head... it started to add up... the phone thing... the lights... the clock. I get it now! Blackout! And the first thing it thought... Cool!
I got out an old phone that didn't need electricity and plugged it in. Got a dial tone. Phone was on. I felt good. I was clicking into survival mode. The phone started ringing with friends calling in asking me if I had power. Calls from Manhattan and Brooklyn... I was like oooh! It's not just me! Manhattan is out too! Cool! So I got my shower radio and put on AM news and found out how big of a deal this was. Then I got a little scared because of course I immediately assumed it was terrorism. And I clicked into real survival mode. I thought about things I needed. I opened my fridge and saw what I had in there. I haven't shopped in a while so I was pretty low on supplies. I had milk. Cheese. Pineapple in cans. Pickles. Beer. Old spaghetti. And random stuff. I stared into my fridge trying to think of stuff that wouldn't spoil and what to buy or whatever. Then the voice in my head said, 'Schmuck! Shut the fridge door! Yer letting all the cold out!' Slam! Dang. My survival mode took its first hit off the joint of dumb. I looked at all the cans of food on my shelf and was like... I'm fine with food. Stop being wimpy and paranoid. Just go out and get what you need. Water, candles, batteries.
So I headed outside to buy stuff at the deli. The deli guy had adjusted well to the blackout and busted out his calculator was selling stuff like crazy. He was writing stuff down and taking IOUs from regulars which was cool cause the cash machines were out. Ice was selling big. So were cigarettes. I bought a bunch of candles and a big thing of water and a four pack of D batteries. Then I got home and realized my radio took C batteries so I put the D batteries in the drawer with the other D batteries that I bought a while ago when then too I thought the radio took D batteries- then I went back and bought C.
I felt pretty set. So now what? I kept tuned into the AM news and opened a beer and actually started reading a book (The Dirt by Motley Crue. It's excellent so far. For reals..) And now and then I'd take a break to think of something stupid. 'Hey! Since I got no AC- I should bring the fan in here!' (No stupid, you still have to plug in the fan!). Right.. right.... Back to reading. Then, 'Hey! Since the cable is out maybe I should get out the old portable TV with the antennae.' (No stupid. You still have to plug in the friggin tv!). Right... right... duh... back to the book.
A couple hours later a friend of mine stopped by and we hung out. That was cool just because -but also because if there was going to be looting or rioting you don't want to be all holed up in your apartment. (Especially when you're in desperate need for a new plasma tv and can't carry it by yourself..) But there would be no looting or rioting. It was close to unimaginable. In fact all I felt was the overwhelming goodness of it all- all around. Besides the people stuck in elevators or in subways (that sucked I'm sure) -people loved it. And with the darkness came excitement. But like a calm excitement. In my neighborhood people gathered around radios in the street and drank beer and held candles or flashlights. Or just walked around. Somehow it was like... everyone knew there wasn't going to be any rioting. It was too hot and cheery out. And you got the feeling if someone tried to start some shit everyone would have looked at him like the guy who tries to start the wave at the football game when your team is down by 56. Everyone would eventually just start throwing their beers at him. Looting last night would have been uncool. Even by criminal standards.
As the night went on the radio continued to praise my greatness for being calm and not going into some kind of uncontrollable frenzy. I've never been so heavily praised for doing absolutely nothing.
Then I got hungry. In my freezer I had a bunch of frozen dinners so I decided to cook up some stuff. The gas was still on with the stove but the pilot light was electric so that was out. I lit the burners with a match and that worked fine. I shut it off. Then I checked out the oven. I needed the oven on to cook the frozen dinner. It was hard to see exactly where the pilot light was. . And I didn't have a flashlight. I thought... maybe if I turn the gas on and then light a match and sorta wave it around and..... then the stupid alarm went off and I shut the oven. Put the frozen dinners away and made mac and cheese.
As it got darker and darker it didn't get more scary. It just got quieter. Except for the occasional siren or drunk jerk yelling it was really nice. And quiet. And I fell asleep easier last night than I have in a long time. I dug the break from the computer (no offense) and from tv and from everything. It was great because there was nothing to do. Nothing I could do. Except nothing. And I dug that so. Of course.
In the morning the lights came back on and it bummed me out a little. I could have used one more day of electric vacation. My computer connection and cable came on in the afternoon. So I sit here typing this in a hot apartment (not turning on my AC because the radio told me not to -and how could I diss it after it did nothing but say nice things about me last night.) Happy that it wasn't terrorism. That there was no mayhem. There wasn't a mad rush for anything. No screaming. No scary. No dickheads.
Just no lights. No TV. No computers. No nothing.... And nothing ruled. Just for one day.