Sunday, August 19, 2007

The value of a good night's sleep

A Good Night’s Sleep

What is the value of an uninterrupted sleep? I don’t know, but last Sunday night I experienced the ultimate opposite.

That night, the wind was blowing a gale. The lights flickered, warning me that a total power outage could not be far behind. I shut down the computer system and waited. Sure enough, at 10:34 everything went dark. I scurried around, stumbling over things in the dark and running into doors until I finally located my emergency flashlight. I was ready to pack it in and go to bed, but then decided that since I had my cell phone handy, I would report the power outage.

I called the Progress Energy emergency number, and had a long conversation with a computer. Everything there must be totally automated as I have never spoken with a real person. Anyway, among other things, the friendly computer wanted to know a telephone number where I could be reached. I gave him my cell phone number, as all the portable phones in my house would not operate without power. Then I crawled into my bed, about 11:15, hoping I would have a long interrupted sleep, and that everything would be fixed by morning. Wrong!

At 12:30 a.m., my cell phone rang. It was the friendly computer telling me they expected to have power restored by 3:00 a.m. Wonderful! Now, just do it quietly and let me go back to sleep.

At 2:00 a.m. a truck from Progress Energy arrived. It had enough searchlights to light up a football field. I staggered out of bed and to the window, where now I could see that a tree across the street had fallen on the lines. The work crew cranked up what is surely the loudest chainsaw in the western hemisphere, and cut the tree down. I am sure that no one within a half mile was still asleep after that noise. I grouped my weary way back to my bed, thinking surely that was the end of the interruptions. Wrong again!

At 3:15 a.m. the friendly computer called again to tell me that now they expected to have power restored by 5:00 a.m. I don’t know how sensitive that computer is. I hope I did not hurt his feelings when I told him just what he could do with his %$^*(&#!- Progress Reports. Once again, I burrowed into my covers, hoping against hope that there would be no more progress reports, or repair trucks or anything else before morning. Guess what? I was wrong for the third time.

At 4:00 a.m. another truck from Progress Energy arrived in front of my house. Wearily I watched as they positioned the truck at the pole holding the local transformer. “Aha,” I thought, “They will reset the transformer and everything will be fine!” With a light heart, I dove into bed and pulled the covers over my head. Come blissful sleep. Would you believe it? Wrong for the fourth time.

At 4:35, the power returned. Of course, that meant all the lights, the TV, the radio and probably a lot of other unknown things suddenly came to life. Groggily I wandered through the house, turning off everything I could find, until finally I had absolute darkness and quiet. As I finally fell into bed, I was elated to think that there was nothing else they could possibly do to disturb my sleep.

At 5:00 a.m. the cell phone rang. It was the friendly computer, saying “If you now have power restored, please press 1.”

I have made a solemn vow. If I ever find out where that computer is located, I will launch a one-man commando raid, and totally discombobulate his modem.

The moral to this story is: The next power outage, I’ll let someone else report it.

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