Posted from my ex facto satellite office – the library

The Universe threw me a curveball yesterday as a powerful storm tore through my area, and I do mean tore. Trees were torn from the ground, shingles and antenna were torn from my roof and sent sailing. Lots of things went sailing. Much of my entire county was/is without electricity today due to trees and poles knocked down in the high winds of this unbelievably fast moving storm. In a rural area, I expect to have the downed power line and the broken pole fixed eventually..dangerous things they are. All around me so many beautiful old oak trees came down. Most more than 150 years old. It made me cry. My eyes are welling up now as I sit in the library parking lot waiting for them to open their doors to storm inconvenienced writers like myself.

I breathlessly bathed using a pot of carefully metered out cold water, slept fitfully in hellish humid and stagnant heat, packed my freezer with what ice I could find, and gassed up my vehicle for the 4-day power outage the electric company was calling for. I emailed a friend this morning as I sat in a wifi spot drinking my coffee and eating a toasted bagel, and mentioned that I witnessed the best and worst in people yesterday.

When I think of the courage in the horrific aftermath of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami, the valiant acts of bravery in the recent flooding, the hopeless faces but generous hearts of those who lost all in the rash of tornados this year, I’m humbled. Mankind has amazing potential to be awesome.

Maybe it’s the scale of disaster that brings out the best.

Yesterday I couldn’t help but overhear outraged people who couldn’t find an outlet to plug their cell phones into. I heard conversations with comments like: “Well they better get my power on tonight, or there’s going to be hell to pay.” , “This waiting is unacceptable!” “I have no way to charge my phone.” “What am I supposed to do with the kids?”

That last one is my favorite. I overhear a woman on the phone while sitting across from me at the library. Her kids kicked my belongings across the floor (twice for my purse, once for my computer bag), she loudly complained to the person on the other end of her conversation, “My husband is out of town today! Yeah today of all days! This is a disaster. What am I supposed to do with the kids? The power’s off! What am I supposed to do with the patio furniture that’s turned upside down? ”

Yeah that last one is rough. What happened in Japan and Alabama, all the floods and tornadoes of 2011 pale by comparison. {shaking my head here} There is a difference between disaster and inconvenience. Hard to miss actually.

While I was out yesterday I saw small glimpses of people dealing with nature’s curveball. The best being neighbors helping neighbors get out from under downed trees, the worst being the hogs: gas hogs, bottled water hogs, ice hogs, and public computer hogs. I saw two separate people walking away with at least ten super-sized bags of ice while others stood and watched knowing they’d have to drive some distance to find another place that sold it. I couldn’t help wondering what this piggishness was all about. Why would they empty the ice chest when other people are just looking for a single bag to get through the next hours of uncertainty without losing all the food in their freezers? People go into survival mode and they hoard. Even if they don’t use it all they still mentally need it all. I wonder if these people would eat their own young if put to the test.

I’ve said before I grew up in Chicago when the 1967 blizzard shut the city down. There were no snow-blowers back then. There were crews of neighbors helping each other. I remember we walked approximately five miles to the store and back, my dad pulling our sled behind us, me walking in his tracks. There were seven of us to feed, the quest was necessary. I recall the store shelves were almost bare because the trucks couldn’t get through the snow to make deliveries, but he found a few things to tide us over, Just about anyone from my generation (I know, I actually did a poll) will tell you the talisman against an impending snow storm. You simply must have milk, bread, peanut butter and eggs or any combination built around the most important milk and bread. Somehow if you have those staples in the house, you can breeze right through a blizzard with hot cocoa and cinnamon toast. Life is good. It’s especially good when neighbors help one another.

So this outage comes at a really bad time. I thinking today that once my electricity is on, I’ll just bet my internet will be down. Summer Love-In guests might very well be hearing from me from my ex facto satellite office here at the library. Now that’s an inconvenience.

About ~RoseAnderson

Rose Anderson is an award-winning author and dilettante who loves great conversation and delights in discovering interesting things to weave into stories. Rose also writes under the pen name Madeline Archer.
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