What Not To Say to Neighbors Still Without Power

Five days without electricity provided several lessons in maintaining civility.

Power was finally restored to my Baltimore County home last night. After having gone without electricity since Friday, my wife and I have learned a few lessons along the way.

Chief among them are what not to say to neighbors still without power (along with civilized responses that served us well when we were Al Pacino-frustrated about being in the dark).  

1. "We never actually lost power."

  • Civilized response of the powerless: "Good for you." 
  • Actual thought: "Good for you, braggart." 

2. "This must be such an incredible bonding experience for your family." 

  • Civilized response: "Yes, our biological ties are not enough. It's better that we sleep in a dank basement amid the stench of rotting food producing maggots and the sounds of a wild raccoon outside our window eating our garbage at 3 a.m."
  • Actual thought: "Did you mean bondage—as in captivity?"

3. "Is there anything I can do?" (This is actually appropriate if followed with an offer of freezer and bedroom space.)  

  • Civilized response: "That's so nice. When can we move in?"
  • Actual thought (after Day 3): "If by 'anything' you don't mean 'turn my power back on,' then 'no,' there's nothing you can do."  

4. "Do you want me to lend you a fan?"  

  • Civilized response: "Nice thought. But, remember, the power is out." 
  • Actual thought: "Only if by 'fan' you mean 'gun.'" 

5. "It really makes you value the simple things in life."  

  • Civilized response: "Yes," you say, nodding philosophically. "It really does."
  • Actual thought: "This is America. We put a man on the moon. I have an expectation of air conditioning." 

There were plenty of other positive results to emerge from the power outage. 

  1. My refrigerator and freezer have never been cleaner.  
  2. My trash cans have never been less disgusting (anything maggot-infested can never really be clean, in my mind). 
  3. We identified the varmint that had been knocking over our trash cans for weeks, and found someone to catch it.
  4. We found a new corporate villain for our middle class angst: instead of despising Comcast, we can now return to despising BGE. (But it's really no different than alternating resentments between the Red Sox and the Yankees.)
  5. I'm thankful that no one I know was injured or killed in the storm or its aftermath. Having had a friend killed in Roland Park by a falling branch two years ago, I'm well aware of the possibility of far dire results.

But it's better to find humor and fellowship in this ordeal. Without it, the heat would have won.

Of course, if we don't stay civilized, it still might.  

TJ Mayotte July 06, 2012 at 11:20 PM
Dropping the clip from "Scent of a Woman" was genius. Genius. "I'M IN THE DARK HERE. I'M IN THE DARK."


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