It all began with a flicker during the first of our recent nor’easters.
“Let there be light,” I prayed with each quivering glimmer.
Shortly thereafter, I discovered electrical power in parts of my condominium but not in others.
I went straight to the fuse box hoping for a tripped switch. That wishful thinking slid downhill quickly. Like well-trained soldiers, the switches stood at attention in straight and orderly lines. Everything was as it should be in there.
And then, the sound of the running heater puttered out.
Those howling winds of this nasty nor’easter sucker-punched many of us on Friday, March 2. By Saturday, the tempest had knocked out electricity for close to 10,000 Peco customers in Lower Merion Township, reported Commissioner Todd Sinai in an email to constituents, including me. Plus, 250 township streets were blocked by downed trees or power lines.
The next five days and nights proved to be challenging.
Yet, luckily – if this notion exists in these circumstances – my power outage was just a partial one. Darkness dominated some rooms, but I had electricity in others.
Power in the living room — where my television and internet router dwell — was nowhere to be found. My refrigerator refused to chill, even as kitchen lights, the microwave, and the outlet that keeps the coffee maker running did their jobs. While my hallway lights shined, the heating unit that is tucked into a small closet there remained silent.
As if having no heat in wintertime isn’t chilling enough.
While my condo neighbors had varying degrees of electrical power, we all had one challenge in common: no hot water.
The storm whacked out a heavy-duty wire in the rear of our buildings. This left residents with options such as taking cold showers or boiling pots of water for innovative methods of cleansing.
Some residents went to stay with loved ones or booked hotel rooms. Others, like me, chose to stay put. Although it took only one cold shower in my heatless home to send me to my nearby Aunt Anne’s for the indulgence of hot showers.
While we were in various states of darkness, my condo pals checked on one another, shared updates on the situation, and offered assistance if possible. Meanwhile, the world around us buzzed with the usual divisive chatter about President Trump’s latest tweet or buzzed about the upcoming, self-congratulatory Oscar awards.
Thankfully, most of my daytimes during this temporary power failure were spent at work. At night, I slept surprisingly well under layers of clothing and a mountain of blankets.
May God, and the rest of us, help people faced with these kinds of challenges daily.
Thanks to the everyday heroes at Peco, laboring outdoors and indoors, along with energy company crews that came in from other states to assist, my electrical power was fully restored shortly after I arrived home from work Monday night. With great relief, I finally had heat.
Now all that I hoped for was restoration of hot water.
As I prepared to douse my dishes in soapy cold water Wednesday morning, I was overjoyed to feel warmth flowing from the faucet. Workers showed up around 11 o’clock the nippy night before and fixed the problem in the mini-forest behind our building.
Countless conveniences make most of our lives quite comfortable these days. These tools help keep us moving. And we move quickly.
Perhaps it takes a power outage to make us pause and be enlightened into appreciating our modern devices and, more important, people like the hardworking Peco staffers and so many others who keep us and our conveniences moving.
Such a spirit of thankfulness might even nudge us to be more open and neighborly in helping others, especially those outside our comfort zones materially and otherwise.
Gratitude has the potential to do wonders.
Marybeth Hagan is a freelance writer and the author of “Abortion: A Mother’s Plea for Maternity and the Unborn,” a Liguori/Triumph Publication.