I’m currently powerless.
Or perhaps stating it more accurately, I’m currently current-less.
According to the power company, a truck hit a power pole or something, and that has cut off the power to 500 or so residents in our area. Workers should be able to fix it within a few hours, they say. But for now, the power is out.
When I was little, a power outage was an adventure. We’d light candles and eat ice cream (based on the assumption that without power to run the freezer it was going to melt anyway, so we might as well eat it). My dad always used power outages as an opportunity to talk about the good old days when he did his homework by fireplace light. To be honest, I think he might have been confusing himself with young Abraham Lincoln, but then my dad was never one to let the facts stand in the way of a good story.
Yes, I know. Like father, like son.
These days a power outage is more annoyance than adventure. There isn’t a lot we can’t do — or at least approximate — thanks to modern technology. No lights? No problem — my cellphone has a flashlight app. In the middle of watching a good movie? You can probably pick up where you left off through that movie service you have downloaded on your tablet. Can’t cook? Use your cellphone to get a pizza delivered. A nice slice of warm pizza will go perfectly with all that ice cream you have to eat.
You know — before it melts.
Of course, technology can only take you so far in a real crisis. As advanced and sophisticated as we are, there is no app from which you can dispense clean, drinkable water. You’d have to lash together an awful lot of electronic devices to make a decent shelter — which would probably be the best use for those devices if the cell towers are down and the power is off.
At least, that’s what I’ve been thinking as I’ve been sitting here, powerless. So I’ve been doing a little spontaneous analysis of our situation here in the dark, and I’ll be honest: we’d be in pretty rough shape if this power outage went on for several days. We’d have food and water and all the Diet Dr Pepper we could drink. But if it were the middle of a cold winter, I wouldn’t have any way to provide heat. And while I have a ton of matches (I went a little crazy buying matches a few years ago after watching Tom Hanks wearing out his fingers trying to make fire by friction in “Cast Away”), I have a grand total of four usable candles.
I also have three flashlights, but since I don’t have any batteries for those flashlights, I don’t think that counts.
Final assessment: We wouldn’t starve to death or die of thirst in a crisis, but we’d wander around in the darkness while we were freezing to death.
Not a happy prospect.
Fortunately, the power is going to be restored to us soon, so I don’t think anyone is going to freeze in darkness on this warm summer evening. But I’m grateful for this little reminder of the significance of the Boy Scout axiom: be prepared.
Tomorrow, I’m going to pick up some candles to go with all those matches and some batteries to go in those flashlights. Heck, I might even pick up another flashlight or two. And then I’m going to see if there’s some way to provide heat for a small group of victims trying to weather the storm.
Or the earthquake, hurricane or tsunami, as the case may be.
What about you? Is there something you can do on this bright, sunny day today to prepare yourself and your family for the dark, unpleasant possibilities of tomorrow? I’m not suggesting that we live in fear. But like the scripture says: “If ye are prepared ye shall not fear.”
Even if you’re powerless.
To read more by Joseph B. Walker, visit josephbwalker.com. Twitter: JoeWalkerSr