Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Once Upon a Time (Part 9)

The scribe and his goodly wife raided all the gasoline powered equipment they owned, siphoning them as dry as they could with a little hand pump. This, however, amounted to what
little was left in the two mowers and the nearly full tank of the garden tiller. Maybe two gallons, if that. This they poured into her car and hoped for the best.

The wife said that word on the street was that Asscrackton wouldn’t see power again before Sunday and it would probably be the same for Tri-Metro. They would have to find gasoline, somehow, somewhere. The only good thing about the storms was that it had cooled everything off, so they slept pretty soundly with a breeze blowing across us through the windows.

The next morning, the wife called in to work to make sure she needed to come in. No sense driving to Asscrackton if they weren’t going to be open, after all. She was told that they would be open and that one of the main gas stations on the interstate had generator power and was open. Her plan was to drive there and get gas before work. She would also fill up our gas cans.
Meanwhile, the scribe’s job became keeping the house as cool as possible for as long as possible, because temperatures were supposed to hit the upper 90s again. So he kept the windows open until the battery-powered thermometer began to creep into the mid 80s. Then he started closing windows and shuttering blinds.

Mid morning, the goodly wife called to say she had been unable to get gas because the line for fuel was out to the interstate itself. However, her old clinic in Borderland reported that they had plenty of power there, so she suggested he drive there and fuel up. He really didn’t want to drive an hour and a half to gas up the car, but figured he could make it on less than a quarter of a tank if he didn’t use air-conditioning or any other electronics that drew power. And he did make it, and was even able to gas up at my favorite station 17 miles outside of town, across the border, where the gas is always the cheapest. However, they didn’t have gas cans, so he drove on into Borderland proper where he found things were well and truly FUBAR. Every gas station near the interstate was completely full and there was a line of cars adding to the chaos with each passing traffic light cycle.

The nearby Lowes only had 1 gallon gas cans left, so the scribe wound up driving further into town where he found an Advance Auto Parts that had a 5 gallon can left. On his way there, he had driven past Kroger and saw that their gas station hardly had anyone at it. The chaos, he reasoned, had not made it this far into town. But with credit card machines down at Advance, due to the storm, it was a cash only transaction, and by the time he’d made it to an ATM and back Kroger was eat up with cars. He had to wait in line for 15 minutes while the two deep line of people at the pump filled up their vehicles and multiple gas cans each.

The scribe took his newly filled gas can and drove to Asscrackton where he gassed up the wife’s vehicle and chatted with her for a bit in the darkened clinic.

“Do I need to cancel my trip?” he asked. After all, they were in a state of emergency officially.

“No,” she told him.

He returned to Tri-Metro, where there appeared to be one gas station that had some degree of generator power, but none for the town.

Though they waited to cancel the show until close to call time, the final performance for the scribe’s play was indeed cancelled. They would have no wrap party. They would take no cast pictures.

That night, after the scribe’s wife had returned home and they had opened all the windows and doors to catch what little breeze there was, he asked her again if he should cancel his trip.

“Please,” she said. “I grew up with no electricity until I was in high school. This will be fun.” This was, of course, a reference to her formative years growing up in a series of cabins in rural Alaska, where she did indeed have no electricity until her high school years. Her point was that while the scribe could be of some help to her there, his would be another car that needed gas. Plus, he was kind of a wuss when it came to lack of air conditioning. She, however, had grown up with less than this. She had a house, she had water and so she could survive just fine. If things got bad, she would pack up the animals and the deep freeze and drive them back to Borderland where we still had a house and still had power.

The scribe awoke at 3 in the morning and drove to the nearest airport to fly to Mississippi. He noticed power in Asscrackton as he drove through it, which seemed a good sign. The wife, however, would not see power in Tri-Metro for several days yet.

A day later, fearing the loss of their deep freeze full of Alaskan salmon, the goodly wife used a set of shelf-boards as ramps and then used a wheeled dolly to roll the smallish deep freeze into the laundry hall of the castle and then from there up into the back of her Honda Element. She then packed up the dogs and drove to Borderland, plugging it into the garage. Two hours later, another set of massive storms rolled across the state and knocked out power in Borderland. Seeing that there was nothing else to do, the following morning she had Lowes locate the nearest town that still had generators for sale and she drove there to buy the next to last one. With this she returned to Tri-Metro, powering the deep freeze for a few hours each day as well as charging her phone and laptop. And because of their continued lack of power and the lack of Link of Sudden High Speed Internet even IF they’d had power, her 3G hotspot capabilities in her phone kept her connected to the net of the whole wide world.

Meanwhile, the towns of the Tri-Metro area slowly crawled back to life. Stores reopened, people returned to their jobs, and life mostly resumed, albeit on a cash-only basis.

Power was also eventually restored to Borderland, which the wife learned from her former coworkers there. She made arrangements for the last of the castle-improvements to be completed so that the castle there could at last be sold.

Finally, nearly a week later, the power was restored to our castle in Tri-Metro. And an air-conditioned sigh of relief was breathed.

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