Archive for Monday, December 2, 2013

Power outage gives new meaning to the term ‘cold turkey’

December 2, 2013

This was almost the year that we quit Thanksgiving dinner cold turkey, and I mean that literally. Fortunately modern technology stepped in and saved the day for many, but there were probably some dinners that didn’t make it.

Thanksgiving morning started out well for us. This wasn’t our year to host the entire family, and only Jean’s brother was driving in from Manhattan. The weather was nice enough, so there were no fears about bad roads. Jean had everything ready to pop in the oven and was just sitting down to enjoy perusing a stack of advertising brochures when the lights dimmed and there was the unknown wailing of a warning signal. After checking the smoke alarms and making sure I hadn’t badly burned the toast we discovered the carbon monoxide detector was the guilty culprit. Things quieted down when it was unplugged.

Now everyone knows that I’m social media-challenged, so I turned to the old fashioned method of communicating: I used the telephone, or rather my cell phone, as the phone system was also down. I discovered that it was a city-wide problem. We were experiencing a brown out with very dim lights illuminating homes unfortunately not heating ovens.

I can imagine the consternation across the city touched both men and women. Women were angry and frustrated since their culinary masterpieces were threatened. They nervously looked at the clock, which probably wasn’t working, to try to see how long they could wait before abandoning the project and getting out the cereal box.

Men, on the other hand, had dual worries. Not only were they concerned about missing one of the biggest feasts of the year, but there were other important concerns. If the power didn’t come on in time, they would miss a football game and the Thanksgiving parades.

Jean jumped into action and called the electric company. Yes, you guessed it – she got an automated system. The anonymous voice asked the usual inane questions and said that history showed that the power should be restored by 12:30 p.m. I think what frustrated her was that there was no explanation of the problem and we were left to guess what might be wrong.

Undaunted, we still had some dim illumination and I was able to shave and shower. However, when I was drying my hair things went completely dark. That sent Jean back to the phone and when she hung up, she was madder than a Chiefs’ fan after the San Diego game. I found myself wondering just how many family celebrations would be ruined and how many would be enjoying lunch meat sandwiches instead of turkey. I imagine the electric company had a lower approval rating than congress.

I will credit them for their correctness. They said 12:30 p.m., however at precisely 12:01 p.m., the house was suddenly illuminated, and Jean was trying to figure out how to salvage the turkey. In our case, it all turned out fine.

According to news reports, a squirrel got into a substation’s transformer and was responsible for the entire debacle that left a reported 3,000 homes without power and some probably without dinner. In all, the power was out for about 2-1/2 hours. Certainly it couldn’t have happened on a worse day, other than perhaps Super Bowl Sunday.

Squirrels have long been the nemeses of electricity in Bonner Springs. Back in the late 1980s we seemed to have a squirrel in a transformer daily and a power outage. That, of course, caused us to lose the work on the typesetting computers at The Chieftain and me to yell some things that I couldn’t print in the newspaper.

If there was one thing that I learned it is how much we depend on electricity and how rarely we have outages. I only hope you had a good Thanksgiving dinner despite the troubles.

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