I went out Monday evening. While I was at my friend’s house, her power flickered on and off a few times. We were a little bit weirded out by it, because the weather was pretty good, and in the middle of February there’s really no reason beyond an ice storm or someone crashing into a hydro pole for the power to go out.
At about 11:15 I decided I really should go home because, well, sometimes I need to sleep to be able to teach well :) …. sometimes.
On my drive back to my neighbourhood, only about 10 minutes away from hers, I come down a hill and to a stop at a T intersection. Normally this is a pretty well-lit intersection that doesn’t make me think twice about my drive home, even though my neighbourhood is truly not the greatest.
Monday night, though, it was dark. The street lights weren’t on, and the whole neighbourhood was dark.
As I got closer to my house, I had to very carefully navigate my way through a traffic light that wasn’t working either, just hoping that anyone else approaching it would also treat it as a 4-way stop.
By this point it was clear that the power in my neighbourhood was in fact out. I had no idea how long, though it was reasonable to assume it had been about an hour, given that that’s when my friend’s power was flickering. I didn’t yet know what had happened, though.
It’s funny the things we take for granted, having power. I remembered that I’d left my back porch light on, otherwise it’s hard to see to get the key into the lock on the back door… but it was dark and I had a hard time doing that. Upon finally getting in the door, my first instinct was to switch on the lights (despite knowing that I had no power).
I checked my phone because, it being my alarm clock, I needed to make sure it could last through the night with no electricity with which to charge it…. sadly, no. 37%. I used it as a flashlight for a couple minutes which brought it down to 29%. Because my phone has a flashlight, I don’t actually own one, so…. I should probably fix that at this point.
I got the bright idea to plug my phone into my fully charged laptop, and let it charge off the laptop’s battery — but I also knew that that could only last so long.
My plan when I got home had been to have a shower, hard-boil some eggs so I had lunches for the week, and go to bed. I couldn’t do any of those things!
With my phone plugged into my computer, I checked Facebook to see if there was any information — apparently a car crashed into a transformer, knocking out the power to my neighbourhood and most of the next one over.
I fumbled around in a drawer to find matches to light a candle so I could leave my phone charging. This would let me brush my teeth (with a bottle of water, mind you :p ) and get ready for bed. My thermostat was down to 62º F (16.7º C), which is not a big deal since I enjoy sleeping in the cold, but when it’s 5º F (-15º C) outside, you just know that the 62 isn’t gonna stay there for long. I bundled up, expecting a cold night, and prayed that my pipes didn’t freeze if the power was off for too long.
Right as I was about to crawl into bed, I heard my refrigerator compressor kick in, then the furnace blower (my furnace is natural gas, so it would stay working, but the blower has no power so it doesn’t throw any heat when the power goes out). Then I noticed that my laptop was charging. I quickly got up, cranked the thermostat up so that if the power went out again, at least it had further to fall before it got too cold in my house again, and I jumped in the shower.
I was praying prayers of thankfulness that I didn’t have to suffer too long, and that everything righted itself.
And that’s when it hit me. (I do my best and deepest thinking in the shower…)
Someone crashed their car into a transformer hard enough that power was out all over my neighbourhood for at least 2-3 hours. I have friends about 5 minutes away who said their furnace didn’t kick in until about 3 hours later than mine did. The accident happened right in front of my school board’s office, and they didn’t have power back until mid-morning.
It occurred to me that while I was being thankful that my house didn’t get colder than 62º, someone or more than one someone could be in the hospital fighting for their life. At that point I didn’t know who was in the car or the circumstances of the accident, but I don’t even really think those circumstances matter. Someone crashed hard enough that they could very well be dead or dying, and I was praying prayers of thanksgiving over my furnace. Yes, I’m grateful for my furnace working, as I hear burst pipes aren’t the most fun… but I’m also grateful for many other things. And I felt I had to say a prayer for those potentially injured in this situation.
I also felt strongly that I needed to ask God to protect those who were out in that cold Monday night, worried about more than their pipes freezing, because they don’t even have pipes to freeze. There have been several nights this winter where the fate of the homeless have been on my mind, because I know I don’t like to be out in that cold very long at all, and I’m usually dressed for it! I can’t imagine knowing that the temperature is going down to -20º C with a windchill, and that you’ll have to find something to bury yourself under so that the wind doesn’t kill you in your sleep. I just…. can’t wrap my mind around it.
Anyway, I’m sure there are things I can do, and I’ve been pondering that. Praying about that. Thinking on that…. but at the very least on Monday evening, I was whacked in the face with a huge load of perspective.