Strange day yesterday. Wednesday evening, we had one of those kick-ass Midwestern thunderstorms rip through – the kind with the 50+ winds blowing so much rain sideways so fast that it takes on a animate, malevolent character, like the insides of a carwash have escaped and are hunting you down. You. Personally. I guess there was some funnel cloudy shit going on in the area. Tree limbs laying across roads, trees in some cases. And, of course, the usual disruptions to our modern infrastructure.
I was at the Jewel, our local grocery chain, when the lights went out – had my Autistic son, Nick, with me. We’d just dropped the last item on our list in the cart when there was a particularly nasty flash of lighting and an almost simultaneous sphincter-clenching blast of thunder and BAM, blackout. Nick was cool – he held it together pretty well. But, of course, in our modern age, the store had no process in place to exchange cash for food without the intercession of technology. So we had to brave the carwash, drive to another store on a different sector of the grid, and pick up some eats there.
But when we got home, we had no power. And it turns out we have no process in place to transform groceries into dinner without the intercession of technology either, so it was off to Chili’s. We figured we’d eat, get home, the power would be back, and everyone could disperse to their preferred media – the eldest to his video games, the Daja to Skype her boyfriend, Nick to his DVDs, the wife to the TV and me back on the treadmill and the interwebs. But no. Still no juice.
So I confronted adversity the way I always do. I took a drink and got in a hot bath where I soaked and read by candlelight. I felt a little like Abe Lincoln – the traditional studious model, not the Vampire Killer. Except maybe Abe didn’t have the drink. Or the bath. Or the bath salts. Of course Abe probably didn’t feel as pretty as I do. Got to be midnightish, still no juice, so off to bed. All would be right with the world come morning.
Or not. Come the dawn, the only light to be had was the natural variety. Since I work from home, this presented an issue. So I packed up the ‘puter and my work shit and lit out for the local Panera, a virtual refugee in search of juice and broadband.
I spent the day bouncing from one WiFi hotspot to the next – Panera until the battery on the laptop hit critical, then I had to leave because all the outlets were taken. So over to the local McDonalds, where they now have free WiFi, but no outlets there, either. (Well, OK, they did have an outlet in the bathroom and yeah, I did, maybe, work in the stall for twenty minutes with my cord snaking out under the side like a Congressman with a “wide stance” until I get enough charge on the battery to go sit in the car and take my 11am c-call while I hijacked the McD’s signal in the parking lot). Then off to the library, where there was WiFi and outlets a-plenty, but that’s not a phone-friendly environment, as the librarian reminded me. Thing is, I gotta spend a lot of time on the phone. So, with my battery fully charged again, it was back to Panera, but still no outlets, and then to the other McD’s on Orchard Road where I found Nirvana – a corner booth with an outlet, enough peace and quiet to use the phone. Electricity, WiFi, hot and cold running cheeseburgers. Next time I lose power (that doesn’t happen often) or the next time Comcast fucks up (hey, that just happened last week) I’ve found my new home.