Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I hope this isn't a monthly occurrence

"So," I ask, stretching my arms out and turning from side to side. "Do I look like I got dressed in the dark?"

My officemate barely looks at me before responding, bless her. "No. Why?"

"'Cause I did."

"Power's out again?"

"Most of it."

Yeah, that's right. Most of it. At ten o'clock last night my apartment was plunged into darkness. I could see that the answering machine was still on, though (it's in the back corner of the kitchen) and I could hear the refrigerator running. This led me to assume that a breaker tripped, even though I hadn't heard it go off. After flicking various switches in the breaker box a few times, I realized that wasn't it. I poked my head out the front door and saw some of my neighbors wandering around asking each other whether they were having power problems. Some people were completely out. Some people had a few things that wouldn't work, and some people had situations like mine. I'm guessing the people I didn't see weren't affected at all.

I tried calling the complex's office on my cell phone. I got no answer, not even the answering machine, which lead me to believe the office was affected too. The manager has emergency numbers posted on the office door, so I decided to head on up there and see if I could get hold of someone at one of them. I didn't make it very far, though, before another neighbor told me he'd talked to our manager (who is also fellow tenant, apparently. His cable went out and about two seconds later the phone started ringing off the hook--people from all over the complex calling with problems), who was now on the phone with the electric company to see what was up. So I went home.

My heater uses natural gas but the fan is run on electricity, so I had no heat last night. I grabbed every blanket I could find and huddled up with Delilah (who, by the way, was as happy as a pig in poo and spent the whole night purring loudly in my face. She loves it when weird stuff happens). I attached the alarm clock to the one working outlet so that I could at least get to work on time.

No coffee this morning, and a cold sink-bath by candlelight. Yuck.

Around 7 this morning, some fella in a hardhat went door-to-door to explain the situation to us. One of the lines from the transformer was out, so anything attached to that line was out too. They would be digging up our driveway and parking lot again, hoped to have everything restored by noon today.

Admittedly, electricity looks a lot like magic to me, but I have what I think is a logical question: why would you attach parts of an apartment's wiring to different lines? There doesn't seem to be much reason behind the way it was done. It's not like everyone's lights were out, but the refrigerators were all fine. In some cases it was just the reverse. Is that standard practice, or am I right in suspecting that my complex was put together by the Keystone Kops of the construction industry?

Everything should be fine now. I suppose I'll find out when I go home.

1 comment:

G said...

In the UK, you just get power into the house down a wire. Then your fusebox ("consumer unit") splits it up into lighting circuit, power circuit, cooker circuit - maybe more than one of each - with different capacity fuses (contact breakers). This is surely the same in the US. Sounds like your apartment block has a master fusebox somewhere that does this splitting-up job at some point before the fusebox in your apartment - maybe to even out the load on each line across all the apartments?

Or maybe you're right and it was the Kops.