They’re right. I recently learned several things during a time of … well, if not adversity, at least annoyance. I speak of a recent power outage that knocked off the electricity for a good four hours on a dark, autumn night.
What did I learn?
1. I don’t know where the big flashlight is.
2. Flashlights are nearly impossible to find if all you have to guide you is the feeble little light of your cellphone.
3. I don’t own enough candles.
4. It’s difficult to effectively wash dishes by candlelight.
5. I don’t know my way around the house as well as I thought I did.
The flashlight thing is going to bug me. I could have sworn it was in my toolbox but no. All I found in there was – can you believe it? – tools. None of which would do me a bit of good when the lights are off. Heck, they don’t do me that much good when the lights are on.
As you no doubt inferred, I was washing dishes when the lights went out. “What is wrong with you, Mike Redmond?” you no doubt are asking. “Don’t you own a dishwasher?”
Well, yes, as a matter of fact I do, and that is why I was hand-washing dishes. They’ll never get clean if you don’t wash them before you put them in the dishwasher to … um, wash them again. This puts dishwashers at the top of my list of Appliances of Dubious Value.
(I put garbage disposals right there with them. I once had an appliance repairman tell me that the only way to make sure your garbage disposal will always work is to never use it. Then he charged me an arm and a leg to fix the dishwasher.)
Having grown up in the country, I am no stranger to sudden and unexplained losses in electrical power. It happened a lot when I was a kid. REMC turned on the lights in the country, as the slogan goes, over and over again.
We always had a good supply of kerosene lamps around. Everybody did. Then again, you must consider that this is LaGrange County we’re talking about, Amishland, where half the houses don’t have electricity to begin with.
I remember lots of nights reading by the light of those lamps or playing Yahtzee or just sitting and talking – remember when families did that? – until the power returned. In fact, I texted my brother about it.
Yup. I handled my annoyance the old-fashioned way: I got out my smartphone and poked around on it. At least, I did so until the battery ran down and I was faced with my second power outage of the night.
So what did I really learn? I learned that I am completely dependent, as are we all, on the juice that comes through those power lines. And that it’s actually good to be reminded, every once in a while, not to take it for granted.
Also, to keep my phone charged.
And buy candles.
And to memorize where the table is so I don’t crack my shins on it in the dark.
The mysterious “they” probably have a saying about that, too.
Redmond is an author, journalist, humorist and speaker. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on speaking fees and availability, visit www.spotlightwww.com.