The blackout ended up not being a particularly special event, but the story is still interesting and I thought I'd get it down while it was fresh in my mind.
Begun by handwritten notes.
I was at work when it happened. The power had suddenly gone out. Thankfully it was still day and we had "windows" throughout the office so that the natural light could filter through.
Without much concern, coworkers and I gathered to figure out what was going on.
"The power went out" someone brilliantly pointed out. Another came out and concurred, adding that it was not just us but that the streetlights are also out. Another person just then returned after fiddling with a switchbox.. yep, it's not us. Interesting...
The defacto manager popped out to retell the story of his being on the internet in a conference. He said that he was showcasing something and was told "no, I don't see that" just as the power went out. He said that he had to call them back on his cell phone to let them know.
"What's that?" said I. "Our landlines are out?" Uh oh, I thought and piped up "This is serious.. this means the power is out at the phone stations.. we're screwed."
We picked up a landline to confirm they don't work. People started trying their cell phones. One had terrible reception but continued to try numbers. I said that the cell retransmitters must have lost power. This really is serious. The same guy made a call to his wife.. downtown was out. Shit, this isn't merely a neighborhood.. He made a call to Sudbury, some 300 miles away. They too had lost power.
We piled onto the roof to determine the level of panic. It's probable that nobody knew as much as we. They basked in the sun, and I in the shade, with confidence that this would merely be a long break. We noted that the reasonably-sized intersection didn't have lights and we were using that as our guide to know when power would be restored. Well, that and the gigantic air conditioners on our roof of course.
We chatted a bit, and mused at how lacking confidence the drivers were. We joked about martial law when I piped up "I'm in charge!" A coworker mock-threw me off the roof and I said "ok, now you're in charge!" We joked casually a bit more before heading back inside.
We learned from who should probably be considered the actual manager that we were to be let go early that day.. there being no real point to staying.
It was jokingly suggested that we could have a structural meeting...
I marked the time at 4:30p and rushed to use the bathroom before what I knew would be a long walk home. Other people had much further to go.
Everyone had already dispursed when I was ready to leave, so I made haste.
I waited for an unusually crowded bus and took the ride homeward.. merely down the street on this ride, but there was much further to go. Everyone seemed so solemn.
The bus took me to a subway station that had a reasonable population. Some people were heard asking if the trains were running. I just walked through, knowing the answer already.
I walked out into the street to take note of the expressions I could see. There were signs of worry, but I could see shops continuing to do business.
As I walked, I considered the luxury of getting a popcicle.. a drink, some icecream.. all of the things which would soon be luxuries.
I paused to realise that soon anything in a fridge would be one. I had wondered earlier, and I wondered again if the water would continue to run.
I looked to see if there were buses running. The particular route I walked was one of the major ones here, but the bus service was night-only, and I was not about to wait for them to organize. I reflect on this now, to appreciate just how crowded those busses would be.
I picked a scenic route and pressed on.. keeping to the shade. I walked until I could note the soreness in my feet, but thankfully I had walked this sort of distance many times before.. still, my shoes were quite uncomfortable to.. well, to wear, letalone walk him. This is the tradition of male dress (sigh).
I passed some people who were listening to radios, but I kept walking. I heard mention of them reminding drivers to treat intersections as four-way stops, just as I was informed earlier at the office. I also passed by someone deep in concentration over what I thought was a shortwave radio. He appeared to be speaking to someone.
I mused at how if I were wealthier, I'd be such an operater now. I chose not to interrupt him for news.
I later came upon a conversation between two across-the-street neighbors, who were speaking on the issue. I paused to listen and would also inject my own knowledge.
They reported that Boston and Washington were also out. Oh fuck. I pressed ever-homeward.
I managed to take a route which was both scenic and shady.. thankfully I live in the city of trees. I barely knew the route, but it's difficult to get lost here.. the streets are well-planned. I ended up appearing within my own neighborhood much sooner than I had anticipated. I had walked this distance before, but never this route.
I got home, chatted with my sister for a time, did some reading and went to bed just past seven. The sun was still up.
I woke at around one, and decided to get some air. I went out and noted the nearly full-moon.. I wondered what the night would have been if it were pitch out. I cursed the moon for destroying perhaps my only opportunity to see a perfect sky of stars.
I retrieved a solar-lamp from my backyward and grinned inwardly at my forethought. I had just bought it, and two others like it, days earlier. I hung out and appreciated the temperature.
I cleaned myself up and decided to visit friends down the street, thinking that would be the best place for information, or at least to form a mob.
I was dismayed at there being no occupants, for once, and was about to investigate further when one guy popped out from the side, on his way home. He reported that there were guys in the shed.
I dropped over to see one portion of the gang hanging out. I popped in and got an update. Apparently this was indeed serious. The entire eastern seaboard was out because a power relay station in the states blew, and it overloaded anything connected to that grid. It was mused that our mayor was on TV just minutes after the blackout to say that this was not a terrorist attack. Suure...
The last time such an event as this happened was in '76. Does nobody learn?
We continued to muse, and I learned that indeed martial law was in place, but that although there was a curfew attached that it could obviously not be enforced. There simply wasn't the manpower..
I relayed my story of walking past indian barbequeues on the way there. They said they were happy to have a gas stove. Hmm, I would be in for a challenge to cook. (I use an electric stove)
We continued to muse that this could be the first action before an invasion.. as this is the traditional action. The water would go next if this were something real. We continued that Canada could take the top half of the eastern states if we wished. We would, of course, have to take their guns though.. hunting with handguns, suure.
I chilled for a while, and we chatted more about general security and politics, but in time I myself headed home. I appreciated the night air some more, and reflected on the earlier statement that a curfew could not work.. it's still too hot inside for many people to be forced to cook in their little cubicle apartments.
So now I am home, and have begun this writing. I ache at holding this sad little lamp at an odd angle and at crouching over to write. The smell of ink is in the air. I hear the familiar sounds of nature, and a thrumming generator from the nearby school. Only a few lights can be seen.. a passing car, and one light up the street. Only one house across from me has candles still lit.. yet another luxury-to-be.
While not tired, I am stuff, and the energy running through this lamp, as slight as it may be, hurts in a way.. (see Magnetic field sensitivity) so I shall retire.
The rest was typed.
I took a catnap with my door open, having placed my light in such a way as to subtly light that floor and the upstairs stairway. I left the door and an eye open, and I rested. Not too much after, I could the water heater whoosh into life. I checked a light. Power had returned.
I looked outside and the streetlights were back on. Joy. It was almost five am. I went to bed and set my alarm for somewhere around ten (yes, my alarm clock is inexact). I intended to sleep in and miss a bit of work so that I might have a chance to have at least a somewhat functional brain.
I slept fitfully, and woke before my alarm went off.. quite a staggering event considering how tired I was. I prepped myself to leave and woke my sister, letting her know that it was nine o-clock.
I left, and waited for the bus. Everything appeared as normal.. until it got to the subway. The driver said that the subway wasn't running and we'd have to wait for another bus. I noted the crowd. Crap.
I waited in the heat-shadow of a building for quite some time for the bus to arrive. It was packed and didn't even feint to want more passengers. A couple of people got off and it drove onward without pausing near us.
I waited some more, appreciating some nice tans and praying to have an air-conditioned bus. Another bus came. The same as before it was packed and refused passengers. Some decided to get on the back doors.. a few people, fine.. a couple of pushy old oriental women, typical.. a fat man and a couple more.. no way.
Today just wouldn't work, I thought, and I headed out for home. At that point I didn't want to look at a bus and couldn't be bothered to jog to catch one passing my way.
Arriving, I esteemed to give work a call to let them know that today just didn't feel right for me.. well I'm sure I could have faked something had I been able to call them. My phones were out. This explains why I didn't have a net connection this morning. Hrmph.
I came down to begin typing my experiences so far, and in so doing I came to realise that work wouldn't have phones either.. so it doesn't matter much that I'm not there, being so reliant on the damnable devices.
So I'm chilling in my wee basement, with a fan comforting me, listening to tuneage and writing everything up. This gets posted to a server that nobody can connect to yet, since I have no phone connection and therefore no internet connection.
Later that day
I learned that the phones were working again and made the call in to work to see what was happening. Over there they had the power and obviously the phones back up and running. Only a few people were there, and they informed me that power was not running everywhere yet.
I stayed on the phone with friends and family to learn that generally things were uneventful. One friend only briefly had power at around five this morning, but currently does not have power. I let her know that work had their phones back and she could then call in. It's possible the phone connections between them could be out.. things are still a bit of a mess. All appears to be going well.
I even said, back at the office when this all began.. that this would be something we could tell our grandchildren.