Thursday, May 22, 2008

How Did We Ever Get By...

Before phones, electricity and Internet? I got to find out yesterday and I didn't like it one bit!

I woke up and turned on the t.v. I record East Coast GMA at four a.m. because I can fast forward through the whole two hours in under 40 minutes and wake up while cuddling the pup. The power went off almost immediately. I got up and decided to head to the creek and power was back on before I left. I chalked it up to a fluke and enjoyed a somewhat breezy hike.

I had hired a young man to trim back my unruly hedges (using my electric trimmer). He showed up at nine and after we chatted and I showed him what I wanted done, I ran into the shop to start work. He immediately popped in to say my trimmer wasn't working. As some fidgeting with the thing, I realized we had no power again.

By now, we're having a full on wind storm and I'm suspicious the power trouble was being caused by the wind. Still, it's not the worst winds I've seen. I checked with neighbors and found it was the wind; no one had power. We got electricity back after about 40 minutes this time, but the cold wind left me feeling edgy.

My big task of the day was to pay my Visa bill. Since I get too busy at times, I had waited until the last possible day to walk into Bank of America to pay it. In order to pay the bill, I needed money in my checking account from another bank which meant moving it from my savings before paying the bill.

Normally, I log onto my bank's internet site, move the money and drive to BofA and pay the bill in under seven minutes. But yesterday, I quickly realized the my internet wasn't working. So, I started trying to phone my ISP. I usually do this by dialing 0 and asking to be connected. 0 wasn't working. Nor was 00 or 611 (repair) or 411 or 1-800 information. I'm starting to panic. Did I forget to pay the phone bill???

I call my best friend. I got her and we chatted a bit. OK, that's better. I'll just phone the bank and move the money that way. Only, 800 numbers weren't working. No problem, I'll call my branch. Oh crap! My bank doesn't publish local numbers anywhere!

So, I load Mabel in the Jeep and we drive to my local branch, about four miles up the mountain. On the way, I call my mom on my cell to have her try and call my phone company from Baton Rouge. Then I spotted a truck and tech from my phone co. and followed him. He explained it was a central office failure, area wide and not to worry, they were working on it. It was caused by the winds.

As I get out at the ATM, the security guard is flagging people down. The bank is closed. No phones + no computers + no power = no transactions.

I'm feeling panicky again and mentally calculating the interest I will have to pay on my credit card. So I drive another 3.5 miles into another town to my branch there, move the money (Yay!) and start looking for a BofA there. I couldn't remember where it was so I drove back to the one by my house. There, they had power but still no phones or computers. I either had to drive back up the mountain or down the mountain to get to a BofA with phones / electricity. I opted for down as it's a bit closer.

On the way, I'm getting really nervous as I had requested the teenage girl that works for me to work and I knew she was almost home from school. So, I'm dialing my best friend (she lives next door to my worker girl) to leave a note on the door, when I realize my cell is dead too.

It took me over three hours to pay the bill. And by the time I returned home, I realized the land line phone couldn't even call locally. I think it was the way everything died in stages that made everyone I came into contact with wary. First the internet, then long distance, then cell phones, followed by local calls.

I have to say it was a quiet night with no phone calls or email to check. God did I ever miss it!


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Becky said...

Holly: I hate paying bills. Since our move, I've got just about all of them on AutoPay except the VISA so I have to REMEMBER each month to pay it. The personal is fine, it's due after the first but our business VISA is due the 24th of each month. I was late once and felt soooo bad. I cancelled the paper when we moved and Luke said it was still coming after we had moved but finally it stopped. Then I received a bill for the three months we had been in Korea. You have to call to cancel and I did before we moved and wrote that I had on an old invoice. They said they have no record of the call. I tried to fight it but when it was turned over to collections, Curt said that was it and pay the darn thing. I'm still steaming about it.

Anonymous said...

During the winter, our area is often without power, sometimes for as much as a week or more. We've never gone more than a little bit over a day up here, but that was just luck. We have a gas generator and keep an old phone that doesn't require electricity, plus I keep our dialup internet service going for just those situations. Still, the panic I feel in those 'powerless' times is all about losing contact with the rest of the world.

Anonymous said...

It is unsettling not being able to do things you thought were simple. I appreciate the things I can do when the power is on more when I've had to do without them for a while.

What does Mabel have to say about all this?

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

Becky, I remember you going through that. I would be furious.

Carmon, I keep thinking I should buy a genny for the next quake... It is that disconnected feeling that bugs me for sure!

Janet, You know Mabel...she's just excited to be going for a ride.

Linda@VS said...

Technology has added so much to our lives, but now that we're dependent on it, a power failure can stop us in our tracks. What a day you had!