Friday, October 03, 2008

Abuse and Power

I got sent this, it's a true story, I'm told.

Abuse and Power
by Robb Blodgett

The electrical power serving our condo complex was suddenly interrupted while I was working on a project in my shop. No warning, no apparent cause. It was 4:30 PM and the February daylight was beginning to fade.

It had now been an hour and a half without electricity. I tried reading by candlelight; romantic in theory, but NOT in substance. Put factually, a great waste of time!

Several "powerless" neighborhood residents gathered outside in the cold. I donned my winter coat. I stepped outside to collect whatever info I could on the outage.

As I suspected, no one knew spit! Other than unsubstantiated neighborhood gossip, my fellow condo owners seldom, if ever, possess information I don't already have, speculation not withstanding. I shuffled back inside to consider my options.

Doing nearly anything would be far more productive than sitting in the dark. The microwave oven and television were idle and useless. There was no power to run my shop tools or light to assure that my fingers stayed connected to my hands. I picked option four; I would leave my condo and run errands.

To do errands, I needed wheels. To have wheels, the garage door needed to be opened. But alas, there was a quandary.

No garage door opener will work without electricity. . . . a fact that any pre-school child would know. Therefore, someone had to open the garage door manually. Who would that be you ask? Me, who else? I'm not married anymore!

The "Emergency Door Release" was attached to the opener's chain mechanism by the original cotton rope. The rope's frayed, dark-stained appearance spoke of its many years just standing by, waiting to be of service. A dusty, red-plastic handle at the end of the rope hung within easy reach. There was just barely enough light to see the handle. I found it, gripped it firmly and gave it a mighty yank.

I should have known. The old, bedraggled rope snapped immediately leaving the red plastic handle in my hand. The dilapidated rope lay at my feet in two pieces. Aw GEEEEZE!

My son had borrowed both of my ladders. I'm 6'1" tall, yet even so, I required more height to see the mechanism, not just feel it. I needed something to stand on. Thinking for a moment, I went inside. I retrieved an old, grey and green Steelcase chair from the basement. The chair was positioned directly under the area where the rope was attached. With an assortment of tools in my front and rear pockets and a flashlight held in my mouth, I stood nervously on the chair wrestling with the grimy door release.

Meanwhile, inside the house, my cute little Shih Tzu puppy named "Boo Boo Bear" was awakened by increasingly hard hammer blows, now being liberally applied by yrs trly to a stubborn safety catch. Bear stood upright in his crate dancing, barking like crazy and practicing his "Daddy, I'm lonely" routine.

For clarity, let me stop and explain something. When "The Bear" barks, I get RREALLY irritated. I hate the sound of a barking dog. But worse, when it's MY dog that's barking. I always think the neighbors can hear him through the common walls that separate our living spaces. And THAT really bugs me.

I can just see my neighbor's cold, red faces! Jaws working, mumbling something naughty about my mother. . . .them getting more and more aggravated the longer the barking and banging continues. Where is the anger directed? At me, of course! And why? For my lack of "doggie discipline."

Of course, cute little "Boo Boo Bear" ALWAYS gets out "Scott-free" . . . he's just too darned cute to get angry with! I, however, provide a broad target for venting frustration. What else can I say? It's a proven fact!

So here I am standing timidly on this old, rickety chair. My jaw muscles are beginning to cramp with the weight of a "D" cell flashlight in my mouth. My pants pockets are laden with all variety of heavy tools. And now, with both arms in the air, I feel my pants ever … so …slowly …slipping …south.

It was then that I heard a polite knock on the front door. Naturally, this drove the Bear's barking into overdrive.

I'm generally a sane, calm, patient person. I can handle even the toughest, most challenging predicaments with the grace of The Pope himself. This was different however. I solemnly confess that what I experienced next was an "out of body" moment of total and utter insanity.

As my pants slid slowly to my knees, a "king-sized" pair of vice-grips fell from my bulging pockets directly onto the second toe of my bare right foot. I opened my mouth to express my unhappiness with the intense pain. As I did, the flashlight became airborne, bounced twice on the trunk of my formerly flawless BMW Z3, and smashed headlong onto the floor, shattering the lens into millions of pieces. Immediately, all visible light was extinguished. It was dark as new asphalt on an overcast night. Now what?

Dear friends, this IS, by definition a hazardous environment. Not moving an inch in the black abyss, I began to form an action plan to get my elephantine keester down and off my wobbly perch. I was reviewing my limited options when a much more insistent beating was administered to my front door with a closed fist. The noise whipped the Bear's yelping into ultra-super-overdrive.

Here I was . . . in total darkness balanced on this treacherous, old chair. I had bare feet. There was broken glass on the floor directly in front of me. I had no light to see how much glass I was dealing with or where the pieces were scattered. My toe felt like it was on fire. My pants were now at my ankles. "The Bear" was inside, barking his fool head off. Now comes some jackass who has chosen this very inopportune moment to assault my front door.

That was enough! My face seared with anger. My heart bounded in my chest. A colossal, mind-numbing headache was beginning to make its acquaintance with the inside my cranium.

Instinctively, without thought or concern, using my highest decibel voice, and, in the meanest, roughest, toughest tone I could muster, I screamed: "Quit beating on the G#$d@*&£!*&%! door and get the HELL out of here!"

So, just as instructed, my little 10 year old paper-girl beat a hasty retreat from the front porch as she began to cry.
Robb Blodgett
Grand Rapids, Michigan


Alex said...

Hmm, before running errands I typically put my shoes on. I do this before trying to get the car from the garage. I especially do it if it's cold enough to put on winter coats.

Anything that is frayed you know not to yank on, but to apply increasing pressure; especially if you're the sort of guy with shop tools.

I don't know, sounds like a made up story. I think someone is trying to make a point, not relay an event.

Last time we had no electricity I managed to plug in a couple of lamps to the car (I have a 110v output on the dash). Since this is earthquake country I have a bottle gas stove for the three days without power. Michigan, I thought, was in snow country, surely anyone there would be prepared with kerosene lamps etc just in case.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like an alternative version of the Hoffnung bricklayer's story.

strum the sky said...

From the beginning, I was comparing it to the old "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" Twilight Zone episode... All power mysteriously off, nobody knows nothin'... These days our civilization could crumble, dropped down around our ankles.

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

I dunno, Alex, globally sounds very realistic to me. Precisely because he's not being very logical.
I mean, the narrator never claimed to have much practical wisdom, aside from snickering at the know-it-none neighbors...
And I bet we all know somebody like that.

Strum the sky,
Nice reference. And the rest of the story proved you right! I bet that papergirl will be scarred for life after hearing the Crypt Keeper. :-)