Powerless

At 12:15 this morning we dropped into the “dark ages.”

Not the literal dark ages, as no visigoths came pouring through breaches in the Roman Wall – but the fan stopped running, the nightlight in the kids bathroom down the hall went out, and the house stilled. That moment after the power goes out always makes me think of Ray Bradbury’s “There Will Come Soft Rains” – the automated house that continues the existance of the family long vaporized by atomic conflict. Why – I don’t know – except it is that silent expectation of what will come next.

In this case – nothing.

I called the Oncor trouble reporting line and commiserated with the automated prompts – “Press 1 if you are reporting a power outage at your home or business.” I guess they get a lot of people who call the trouble reporting line just to hear the automated prompt offer options. Personally, I never think to call the trouble number unless I am having trouble.

So I got a trouble ticket number which can not be used anywhere in the known free world to find out any information about the outage – and tried to go back to sleep. About three I saw flashing lights reflected off the bedroom ceiling from the alley, so I assumed that power would be restored shortly. Was I every mistaken.

The 5:00 AM expected restore time came and went – with no further sound from the alley. And no electricity. I am not a happy person in the morning without my coffee – and it’s hard to grind coffee without a grinder. I know that we have a manual grinder somewhere – but hunting for it in a dark closet filled with boxes of camping supplies was not my idea of something to do before coffee. Viscous circle – enough to make me think of dark ages again.

So off to the nearest purveyor of coffee like substance – which since Starbucks abandoned us is McDonalds. Two large coffees restored balance to the morning for Rebecca and I.

A couple of additional calls to the nice automated voice at the Automated Trouble Reporting service brought me two additional ticket numbers that were comforting but useless. Even more discomforting was the fact the the automated voice was no longer promising any future date when power would be restored.

I decided to take a shot in the dark ( 😉 ) and call the company that actually collects my money for electricity and ask them what was going on. While I reached a person there – they have no more information that I did – except that I should call Oncor and report the problem. Which I assured them I had. The nice person went away for a while – then came back and told me that a different automated system had told her 10:00 AM.

So – working on the assurance that “crews were working in my area to restore power” I went to find said crews. All I have to say is that the US Military should utilize the same techniques as Oncor – since I drove every alley and street in the area of the outage and did not see a single Oncor truck. Very effective urban camo Oncor.

I did run into a neighbor – who had just been told 11:00 AM for restoration. Not a good trend.

Rebecca had left for Joanna’s horse expo – so I took Alex over to help Grampa with his yard. I went to fix computer problems – something that I had planned to do at home but home was not an effective work environment – lacking broadband and power.

Finished up around 11:00 and came home to find … no power. Flippy Flippy no Lightie.

Back onto the phone and into the car – driving the alleys looking for the elusive crew in my area. Around noon they showed up – all ten trucks. I guess when they arrive they arrive en-mass.

Turns out that the situation was a bit more complex than the standard smoking ex-transformer that we are so used to in this area. Our block is fed by two different high voltage underground service lines – a primary and a backup. Normally, with a failure the overnight tech (think 3:00 AM amber lights) would just switch over to the other cable and leave the heave lifting to the repair crews during the following week.

However, in this case the block was already on the backup feed. The primary feed had already been taken out of service the previous week due to problems we had see in the area. The cable was marked and ready for repair.

Then the backup feed failed.

The overnight tech had tried to take the service back to the primary with no luck – the damaged primary failed immediately. So he no fallback. Result – we were powerless!

The fastest fix was to dig up the backup service and fix the place where it was shorted – likely by all the moisture by the foot of rain we have received over the previous week. The crew worked efficiently and got us back online at about 2:30 – however we had already had to spend $30 on dry ice to keep from losing everything in the freezer.

Power is back up now – as is Internet and the other items which make our life seem civilized. However, being powerless for the majority of the day messed up our carefully calculated schedules and made me remember that we are blessed with technology that makes many things easy – but is itself a crutch which when knocked away can leave us flailing in the dark.

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