Monday, December 19, 2016

Lights! Camera! Blackout? A story of a friendship restored during the holidays.

Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the home,
no devices were running, not even a phone.
The children did gather, totally bored,
in hopes that the power would soon be restored.
Christmas Eve was unseasonably mild. The power went out right after sunset when people were turning their Christmas lights on. Shortly afterwards, Fred rolled his generator into position not far from the kitchen window. He had purchased it a few months earlier in preparation for Hurricane Matthew. It was still shiny and new. It was also easier to crank up than his lawnmower.

After the generator warmed up, Fred connected the refrigerator, the TV, and some lights. The generator was loud, but the power it provided was well worth it. Wilma, Fred’s wife said, “I’m really glad we have that, even though we didn’t use it for long when the storm came through.”
“Yeah, me too,” Fred replied. “Aside from stepping over the electric cords, life’s almost normal tonight. I’m going outside to see what’s going on with our neighbors.”
Walking to the end of the driveway, Fred heard other generators. However, they were all in the distance. It sounded like his was the only one running nearby. As he approached the end of the driveway, he saw no evidence of electricity in his neighbors’ homes.
With a hint of smug satisfaction in his voice, he told his wife, “It looks like we’re the only ones on the street with a generator.”
“So, Barney and Betty have no power?” Wilma asked.
Fred cleared his throat before answering. “Well, honey, they live right next door and I don’t hear a generator over there. Furthermore, their lights aren’t on. So, I think it’s fair to conclude that they have no power.”
“Maybe it will come back on soon,” she said.
“Yeah maybe,” Fred replied as he turned on the TV. He wanted to see if there was any news about the mysterious power outage.
The talking heads on the local news programs all said the same thing. “A JEA spokesperson says that the utility is working to restore the power, although they have not yet determined the exact cause.”
“That’s not very encouraging. They don’t know what the problem is but they’re working to fix it,” Fred told Wilma.
“Is there anything we can do for Barney and Betty?”
Fred and Barney had been best friends and fishing buddies for over a decade, right up until early November. In the leadup to the election, they argued a lot over politics. Then they stopped speaking to one another.
In a perturbed tone of voice, Fred said, “Why would you ask me that?”
“Because Barney is your best friend, and it’s time to put this insane election behind us. Can you stop being so hard-headed?”
Fred softened up. “Yeah, I guess you’re right. We can spare some power. I’ll take a walk over there.”
Wilma told him, “No gloating. Over the election or the generator.”
Barney had a flashlight in his hand when he answered the front door. “Hey, Fred. How’s it going?”
“OK. How are you and Betty?”
“Well, I'm living in the dark, like a caveman. Betty said she enjoyed the cold dinner by candlelight. Me, not so much.”
Fred said, “I just saw the news and it doesn’t seem like anyone knows when the power will come back.”
“I heard that on the radio. Hopefully it will come back on soon.”
“Who knows? After Matthew, some people were back up in a few hours and some people were out for a week. I’ve got more wattage than I need. If you want, you can throw a line over the fence and I’ll connect it to my generator. You could at least power up the fridge and a few lights.”
“Thanks, Fred. That’s very generous of you. Our refrigerator is packed with stuff for tomorrow and Betty has been getting antsy about it.”
After they got things connected, Barney asked Fred, “Would you like to sit down for a cold one before you go home?”
“You know I would,” Fred answered.
They seated themselves at the kitchen table.
“I really appreciate you hooking me up Fred. It’s easy to take electricity for granted till you lose it. Having some light back in the house is nice.”
“It’s no big deal. Thanks for the brew,” Fred said after taking a long sip.
“This election was the craziest I’ve ever seen,” Barney said.
“You got that right. I’m glad it’s behind us.”
“Agreed, old friend.”
“So, do you have any big plans for the holidays?” Fred asked.
“Well, I’m thinking of getting up early tomorrow morning to fish. Of course, it would be a lot better with a fishing buddy. Are you up for that?”
“Fishing on Christmas morning? Sounds interesting. I’ll have to clear that with the boss, but yeah, that sounds good to me.”
“Hey, I hear something outside, and it doesn’t sound like reindeer,” Barney remarked.
Out by the street, a bucket truck parked, 
and a JEA lineman soon disembarked. 

Children gazed out their windows with glee, 
looking forward to once again lighting their trees.
After a few minutes, the lights came back on.
“Looks like the power’s back. It’s a Christmas miracle,” Barney said.
As Fred was heading out, Barney said, “Thanks again for coming over and hooking us up.”
“Thanks for being a friend, Barney. I realized something important tonight.”
“What was that, Fred?”
“Friendship is one of the greatest gifts of them all. And, like electricity, you tend to take it for granted until you lose it. Let’s not let anything stupid happen to our friendship again.”
“Agreed,” Barney nodded. “And Merry Christmas.”