I live in California, and since we don’t have hurricanes or tornadoes to speak of, we got mudslides and wildfires instead. The mudslides aren’t so bad, since they’re never near my house. The wildfires, on the other hand, are scary.
Not many people know this, but California is not one giant beach with Hollywood on one end. Only the left side of the state looks like that. The middle part is covered with food. You’re welcome. The right side is covered in trees and mountains, in an attempt to keep those weirdo Nevadans out. It’s the right side that catches on fire.
We live on the border of the middle and the right side. Tragically, we lost an entire town and a lot of people to a fast-moving wildfire last year. PG&E is our utility company that supplies nearly the whole state with gas and electricity. They were sued because it was found that the fire started at one of their transformers. They declared bankruptcy due to the lawsuit, but somehow, remain our utility company, proving once again that no one knows how bankruptcy works.
Suing them for the tragic fire is a double-edged sword. On the one side, they provide power. Electricity is the only thing that keeps us from being cavepeople, and we take it for granted every day and are very quick to dismiss its true importance.
On the other side, we have been paying PG&E roughly a zillion dollars per kilowatt for the last three hundred years, and the only equipment they have updated regularly are the executive jets.
So, it comes as no surprise that social media is all aflutter today with the latest developments in the PG&E saga. They are now turning off power preemptively, in an attempt to keep another fire from starting. They do this when the winds reach (or might reach) a certain velocity. As of this morning, that velocity seems to be a sliding scale, ranging from “no wind whatsoever” to “kinda breezy.”
We were alerted last night by the school district that some of the schools might be closed today, which caused every school-age child in the district to simultaneously text each other bad information. Parent braced themselves. Local stores sold out of dry ice almost instantly, and everyone went to gas up their cars, which are vital tools in keeping our cell phones alive.
The outages began early this morning. Perishable food, gasoline, and lost episodes of The Voice are not the only things being wasted by these outages. Collectively, the California Facebook users have already wasted two hundred thousand man-days of productivity arguing about why this is or is not a good idea.
Whether or not a planned power outage is a good idea is irrelevant once your power is actually turned off, so in an effort to be helpful in these strange times, I thought I would provide some power outage operational and safety tips.
1) Buy non-perishable snacks, like Twinkies and beef jerky. Keep them out and handy. Eat all these snacks before the power actually goes out, because you were bored and have no self-control.
2) Stock up on batteries. Realize when you get to the store that you actually don’t really know what size batteries the emergency flashlights take, so just buy a lot of each kind. The ones you don’t need can be used as currency in the post-apocalyptic nightmare that will soon become your life.
3) The store you are at is obviously already out of both regular ice and dry ice, so ask the clerk if they know where you can get some. They will say no. Complain to them about their stocking levels of vital power outage-related merchandise even though you know the bag boy you’re talking to has about as much store management decision making power as the Twinkies you are buying.
4) Since the bag boy was no help, ask on every social media platform about where to get any form of ice. No one will know, but everyone will share a story about not finding any either and a tirade about stocking levels of vital power outage-related merchandise. #Icemageddon
5) Return home and realize that the batteries you just purchased are worthless because all the dead batteries inside your emergency flashlights have corroded, welding themselves inside the tubes, becoming one with the now useless flashlights forever.
6) Wait patiently for the power to go out, surfing all the social media posts about whether power is on or off in a particular neighborhood. Post that you still have power, but never give your location. Just assume everyone knows exactly where you live. In the morning, reluctantly get out of bed and start your normal routine when your stupid alarm goes off and you realize the power is still on.
7) If the power actually does go out, turn on your cell phone flashlight and locate the bag of empty, non-perishable snack wrappers. Curse your non-existent willpower.
8) Hunt for candles since all your emergency flashlights are just cylindrical paperweights.
9) Realize the only candles in your house are the scented decorative ones in the guest bath and you’ll be damned if you’re ever going to light those and waste them on this!
10) Settle in on the couch and get back on social media, asking if anyone else just lost power, but again, do not disclose your location. #SoDark #HopeMyPhoneBatteryHoldsOut
11) Realize you no longer have WiFi. Realize that that is probably your biggest problem. Get back on social media to talk about WiFi and data plans, phone carriers, etc. #PG&EBetterPayForMyData
12) Open the refrigerator and momentarily wonder why there is no light. Laugh at yourself for being dumb. Close it quickly to keep the cold in.
13) Walk to the bathroom and flip the light switch on by habit. Laugh at yourself for being dumb. Wonder if the toilet will flush with no power. It does. Be amazed that you still have water and gas with no electricity to, like, get them to your house and stuff.
14) Realize that you have no idea what you will do if this lasts more than four hours.
15) Feed the kids crackers for dinner by the light of the gas stovetop burner that you lit with the long butane barbecue lighter.
16) Go to bed and pray.
So far, so good here at Casa de Smidge. I just hope they keep our power on long enoug
Copyright © 2019 Marc Schmatjen
Check out The Smidge Page on Facebook. We like you, now like us back!