Monday, May 21, 2012


While enduring nine days without electricity recently, the Barkley family rattled around my brain. Via my Netflix gift subscription, I had previously watched six episodes of the Big Valley starring Richard Long, Lee Majors, and the legendary Miss Barbara Stanwyck. It seems this well-to-do brood did quite well sans electric lights, refrigeration, and ready-made hot water. Without the aid of a washing machine, they always appeared effortlessly clean in their pristine and—in my opinion—somewhat ostentatious mansion.

A major electrical problem that would take at least three to four days to remedy took twice as long. Courtesy of a generous neighbor of mine from across the way, who provided me with an extension chord and some power, I was able to hook up my computer and modem and maintain some semblance of a normal life while in the dark. I could at least do some work, post on Facebook, and Google all sorts of unimportant things. After one evening of this borrowed power, though, the electrician’s assistant cut my cable wire by mistake. In fact, he cut three cable wires by mistake. The cable company said it could not be repaired until the electricity was restored.

I know that a whole lot of people have been without power for a whole lot longer than nine days after natural disasters and such. Still, this stubborn fact of life provided me with little solace as things were being ripped off the wall just outside my door and brick residue saturated the air and tenaciously clung to everything in its path. And then came the drilling of holes through the same brick wall—more noise and dust everywhere and anywhere.

I’ve noticed through the years that contractor types presume every adult male has at least a working knowledge of their trade and lingo. Other than it comes on when I plug things in, flick switches, and push certain buttons, I know next to nothing about electricity. Nevertheless, I said I understood things I really didn’t and, when asked, nobly assisted to be an electrician assistant’s apprentice. Trust me: This was the electrician from hell.

Life lessons learned from being powerless? Foremost, I like electricity. Living on the Ponderosa or in Walnut Grove really isn't all that it is cracked up to be. And when push comes to shove, I can take ice cold showers. Granted, had all of this occurred in January, it would have been more of a challenge. Most important of all, don't run with the first name that comes up in a Google search of "electrician," even if it's an emergency and they say they'll be right over.