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Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Blackout

This post is a few days late because the last three drafts had too many four-letter words for public consumption. But now that I've had time to reflect on last Sunday's blackout, I can write about it in a more measured (and civil) way.

Like many of history's great evils, this blackout started out very innocuously. At roughly 8:00AM, while I was still enjoying my Sunday morning slumber, the PA system informed me that a building-wide power outage had occurred and would be rectified after further investigation. As I had no particular use for electricity at that time of day, I thought I would just go back to sleep and wait it out. How hard could it be to isolate a blown fuse and get things back on track?

By 10:00AM, the room was starting to feel uncomfortably cold and it was nearly impossible to sleep, so I decided to get up to reassess the situation. Apart from the drop in temperature, everything else looked no different than usual. So far, so good. But when I went to turned on the tap, I heard only an angry hissing sound instead of the sound of flowing water. Suddenly, things were starting to look more serious. I can live without lights, but for various archeaic biological reasons, I can't live without water.

I also realized that the absence of water now meant that there was exactly enough water in the toilet tank for one, and only one flush. I now had to be vigilant and discerning about when to use that one silver bullet. As I thought about this, I wiped my face with a piece of tissue, tossed it in the toilet, and flushed it down. So much for vigilance and discernment. I was out of water, out of electricity, out of phone service, and perhaps more immediately alarming, I was out of "flush".

By 11:00AM it became apparent that this outage might not be as temporary as I had hoped. I did a quick survey of my room to see what I could eat and drink (and what I could burn for fuel). Reality struck hard when I realized that I only had one cup of water and some snackbars. Clearly, I had to acquire more food and water before it got dark if I wanted to get through the night without cannibalizing my neighbours. I picked up my coat and winter accessories and went down the stairs.

Only when I got to the outside did I realize the magnitude of the blackout. There must have been 40 or 50 city blocks without power that day! This wasn't some minor screwup by the building manager, but some sort of large-scale outage. Suddenly, finding a place that sold food and water seemed a bit more challenging. To my surprise though, the Shoppers on Bay and Gerard was still open. After ringing up my purchase of water and Nutrigrain bars on a calculator (solar powered, no doubt) I went back to my place to wait the outage out.

I've always known that I'm not in the greatest shape. But walking up 26 stories in total darkness while carrying 4 litres of water really underlined the ineptitude of my body. By the time I reached my room, I was ready to chug down 2 of the 4 litres to replenish my spent body.

The rest of the day was relatively uneventful. I spent the next 7 hours knitting (yes, I knit now...more on this in another post) and eating nutrigrain bars. As the sun set, I added more and more layers of clothing. By the time the power came back up around 7:00PM I was wearing two sweaters, long Johns, jeans, thick wool socks, scarf, and leather gloves.

The moral of the story is: electricity and water are essential services! Keep them running if you want to get re-elected.


Your Favorite Jerk

2 Comments:

At Thursday, January 27, 2005 1:34:00 AM, Blogger peach said...

call it sadistic but i loved this post. funny how one never thinks about how heavy items become after 26 flights, but i could totally picture u all bundled up, in your room ...knitting. LOL, ahem. poor reformed jerk. it's raining in vancouver, how are u doing? ;p

 
At Monday, January 31, 2005 6:00:00 PM, Blogger Flami said...

Peaches is so right. 4 litres of water is heavy anyhow, but up 26 flights of stairs? Aiyoh.

I can only hope you haven't had to pour buckets of water into the toilet to flush the contents because the toilet handle was malfunctioning. (it's happened to me more than once here!)

 

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