On Thursday morning when I woke up, I felt something was not right. Being the corner house, we are very close to the PG&E unit for our condo complex and hence I am used to the usual hum of the unit. No one but I can hear that hum. It is the hum that tells me all is the same as yesterday. Even though it really is not. But as I am growing up I am learning to enjoy the monotony of life. Let me phrase that right – I am beginning to enjoy the consistency of things around me. Summer after Spring and Fall after Summer are transitions I had never observed before. But there is something reassuring about seeing your plants come back to life as March unfolds and I have learnt that now. And there was nothing consistent nor reassuring about my Thursday morning.
I got up and went to the bathroom and out of habit switched on the light. Still a little sleepy I ignored that the room did not illuminate. Soon I realized the exhaust did not turn on either. I count on that noise to shake me off my last few crumbs of sleepiness. And today, it’s absence solved the same purpose. I was a little jarred. I went around the house turning on all switches and concluded there was no electricity in the house. My next step was to wake up Agam and ask him if something tripped the power of the entire house.
One of the sweetest things about Agam is that if you don’t wake him up, he can sleep through the entire day. But if you do (and I hate doing that); he will be up in an instant. And he did so on Thursday too. He ran down and checked the mains. Everything was in order. He then checked the PG&E website for any outage notice. And there it was – Power had tripped for Rex Manor district of Mountain View at 6:15 am that morning. There was a crew assigned but no other updates other than an ETA of 9:45 am.
Now that the mystery was solved, I was a bit relieved and decided to get ready for work.
‘Get ready’ in the urban first world dictionary means – a hot shower, ironed set of clothes and a hot and piping breakfast. And that realization struck me when I was brushing my teeth with ice cold water. The cold water stream pricked my fingers like thorns. One would think – what an exaggeration. Try it out for yourself before you judge me. I consider myself to be a first world resident with a third world heart and even I could not put together a back up plan for myself on Thursday.
And so I gave up and wrote to my manager that I cannot make it to work because of an unplanned power outage in my area. I started operating from my phone; of course with the fear of running out of charge looming over my head. I also checked how much power I had in my work laptop; and decided to conserve that for any emergency escalations that I’d have to handle. I then checked battery on my iPad to make sure Agam and I can still communicate on 4G knowing that the wireless was doomed too. I wondered how other folks in the neighborhood were coping. Especially those who have to send their kids to school. Luckily most of the schools have already started summer break and hence the damage was minimal on that end. But there were more questions jamming my head –
What if someone needed to heat up a glass of milk for their child who does not drink cold milk?
What if someone needed some emergency medical gear that depends on power?
What about garage doors? They are also electrical these days.
What about traffic lights?
What about electrical sanitizers?
What about electric cars?
What about schools who had to administer online exams?
What about all the electric clutter in our lives that we have chained ourselves to?
I felt so grumpy and distressed about the whole situation. I could not stop thinking of the what if scenarios and finally I gave up. Agam decided to pursue his cold water shower and started getting ready. Watching him go about his activities made me even mad. I knew he had not touched the water yet and I wondered if he will still jump into the ice cold shower and then end up falling sick. As for me, I just lay in bed and worried.
And then.. as soon as Agam turned on the tap in the bathroom, the power resumed. The coincidence was too unreal for me. A deep sigh escaped my lips! I had already missed my bus by then and hence went about my normal WFH day. The toaster served me my bread and the panini maker delivered by sandwich as per the expectation. I could finally make my cup of tea and turned on my laptop for a long day at work.
Later that day while reading a short essay online I came across this phrase from Rumi that served as a great closure to my day.
“If you start walking the way, the way appears.”