Ever feel alone and powerless? That’s how we were feeling a
couple of days ago. It began on Monday night around 9 p.m. when for no apparent reason about half of the lights in the house
dimmed to a flickering glow. Now this was peculiar. Usually the power goes out in one fell swoop, but this time some of the
lights were burning brightly while some were reduced to a romantic glow. (All this out of a clear blue sky, by the way, although
storms were forecast for later that evening.)
Of course, my first thought was that the circuit breaker panel in the basement
must surely be enveloped in flames, the result of some ill-advised wiring project of mine. Fortunately this proved not to
be the case…this time. A quick call to Xcel Energy revealed that we were not the only ones experiencing problems. Sweet relief.
Anticipating the warm feeling of neighborly solidarity that is only experienced
in such a crisis, I ventured outside to embrace my comrades. And, yes, there were two or three people milling about
the circle looking puzzled. We commiserated for a while and before long an Xcel Energy truck came by to investigate. In short
order it was determined that a transformer on our block had failed and we all retired for an evening of flashlights and
candles, heartened by a promise that within eight hours we’d be back in business.
Well, to make a long story interesting, we’ll pick up the pace. Despite major
storms overnight which cause numerous power outages elsewhere, Xcel crews heroically arrive in wee hours to replace transformer.
Next day, still no power. At work, repeated calls home and to Xcel produce no result. Temperature and humidity soaring. Perishables
melting. Rush home at end of nerve-wracking day bearing 20 pounds of ice to bolster rapidly warming refrigerator. Fast food
dinner to escape sweltering heat. Driving home, we survey the extent of the catastrophe. One block away on either side,
all lights are on. Cautious optimism. Pulling into the driveway, hum of next-door neighbor’s air conditioner greets us. Growing
optimism. Into the house. No power. Hmmm. Back out to the street for more solidarity building. Quick poll reveals that only
eight houses are affected. We wait. Xcel truck rumbles up the street. Neighbors contemplate setting up roadblock to prevent
his escape. Much hemming and hawing. Xcel truck rumbles down the street and off around the block. We wait. Moments later,
he returns only to ring the circle and drive off again. We wait some more. Finally, with an audible hum, the transformer kicks
in and power is restored.
Consensus amongst my comrades is that repairs to our transformer were complete Monday night and that in the excitement
accompanying the storm damage, our crew was called off before they could actually throw the switch to restore our power. And
so the “Little Eight” sat and sweated. I think our next official act will be to request connection to a larger power grid.
Either that or planning a block party.