19 March 2016

Four Days, Part Two

Okay, where did I pause?  Saturday morning. Day 2.5 with no power.

Actually, I need to back up a tiny bit.  10:30 on Friday night, the generator died.  Kevin tried and tried but couldn't get it to restart.  He literally sent his parents to bed and then we did the same.  We are now completely in the dark, no one has heat, and remember we have a well and septic system so no water nor potty. 45 degrees outside, windy and raining.  Super fun.

Oh, and Dear Swistle, I reluctantly admit that your concerns about the Big Earthquake may have merit.  If we're looking at this experience like a drill, we are HOOPED.  But, in our defense, we were caught completely off guard.  We have never gone more than 24 hours without power.  Now we know what NOT to do.

So, Saturday morning.  It was Kevin's turn to work a Saturday and he didn't feel comfortable telling his guys  that he needed to trade with such short notice so off he went.  Lucy and I stayed in bed and slept.  Because there was really nothing else to do at this point, other than call the power company.  They were not appreciating my every four hour dedication and I wasn't certain if I was helping or hurting our cause. But the fix was simple: turn on our power and I will stop calling. 

I have already had tense, curt, and probably sarcastic conversations with every customer service rep at Puget Sound Energy at this point.  I had been told that they had "determined the problem", they "were on site" and that they would be there at any given time increment.  I was also given a lesson on how circuitry worked (so wrong) and that I "just don't understand what was going on."   I was told that there were the aforementioned "only five metres on the road" multiple times until they must have highlighted the notes in neon to Not say that.  I bet if I phoned right now, they would be able to identify my voice and  that there were "six houses, eleven people - three of which are elderly and two who are under five."

Oh, and here is the most frustrating part: all that needed  to happen was a breaker/fuse to be replaced.  There was no damage to the line, pole, transformer, anything.  The breaker popped.Easy Peasy.  Now, I understand that the workers need meals and rests.  It's a dangerous and often miserable job.  But when we knew it was such an easy fix, it was difficult to be understanding.


My mother-in-law phones about nine o'clock and asks for information about a tiny motel that is down the road.  It is located across the street from a tavern in a one-stoplight "town", if that gives you any indication of the "quality" of this motel.  I had already told Kevin that I was down with having a hotel but just not that one.

The night before we had talked about putting the parents, or everybody, in a hotel but the power company kept saying that the power would be on soon so we kept putting it off.  My sibling-in-laws had heat so the plan was for the parent to relocate there.  But for some reason, the parents were resistant.  I'm unsure why and I just didn't have the brain space to consider what was happening.  Oh, and this is after the m-i-l getting teary and upset that they had heat and we did not.  The logic defies.

I gave her the number to the hotel after calling and getting no answer.  Then I called my sister-in-law and let her know what was happening.  She was also Up To HERE with the parents, which also is an indication of how sideways things have gone.  She never loses her cool and she had nothing.

About an hour later, I hear my brother-in-law in the driveway.  He is picking up the parents and taking them to the motel.  I freely admit to having a little glee that finally He has some responsibility in caring for his parents.  (sidebar: things always seem to happen when he's not around.  Or he manufactures a reason to not be around. Or, he just doesn't participate because he knows his brother will take care of it.  Oh yes, now that you mention it, it Does make me stabby.)

About 11:00 am I took Lucy to the coffee stand to get treats and me a coffee and something to eat.  This also allowed me to warm up in the truck and charge my phone.  I momentarily considered moving into the truck until our power returned, seriously.  But the power was due to be back on somewhere between Any Minute Now and Never so I kept holding out hope.

We had a memorial party that afternoon that could not be missed.  This was a small reason that the parents wanted to get a motel, even though only one of them were attending.  Oh, right, I forgot to revisit the father-in-law's condition.  The break/fracture/crack.  He went from "Oh, I'm FINE. I can walk on it" to NEVER WALKING AGAIN.  No, seriously, Kevin's mom said about a week ago "We just don't know when he will walk again."  Umm, let me think...doing math...remembering 2012...in SIX EFFING WEEKS.  It's as if they've forgotten that both me and my s-i-l had broken our ankles in the last three years.  What.Ever.

The memorial is near my parents house so my plan was just to pack up and go down there to get showered and revert to human form.  It occurs to me that I should call my mom to make sure she had power and that she would be home.  There is no five minute conversation with my mother so fifteen - twenty minutes later, I am packing up to go.

I was supposed to print out some photos and a speech from the cousins who live in the South for the memorial.  But, as I might have mentioned, I had no power.  I had to box up my laptop, my internet, and my printer to take to my parents so I could print everything out.  Yeah.

Now, Kevin hasn't showered since Wednesday evening so he is miserable.  He didn't have time to stop by the parents to shower before going to the memorial so he had (warning: I'm going to use a phrase that make me squint and he uses it on purpose)  a Whore's Bath in the truck shop.  He was not a happy camper.  I kept telling him that we will get a hotel after the memorial service.

The memorial service was more of a party for a cousin who passed due to damage inflicted by heavy drug use.   It was difficult to get in the mood for this event when we felt like we were living Armageddon. Her husband is the brother of one of Kevin's oldest friends and her brother is the only surviving member of that branch of the family (other than his kids) so it was inconceivable to not be there.

However, there were babies there.  A whole lot of babies.  Nothing makes  the word a better place than babies.  It was nice to see everyone else, of course, but: Babies.   A set of four-month-old twins, a one-year-old and a two-year-old, all children of our younger cousins.  Younger cousins being in the age range of early 20's to 30's but whatever.  We were definitely appreciating the circle of life in this setting.

My sister-in-law stated that the parents wanted to come back home, even if the power wasn't on.  They had been in the motel for four hours and had paid $100, $25 of which was extra because they had their little dog with them.   When I asked why, she stated "I don't know and I just can't care."   Again,  things have gone horribly wrong if this girl has that attitude. Imagine if the Dalai Lama was all "Eff this Sh*t", this is my s-i-l's level of frustration at this point.

 Our aunt, the mother's younger and only surviving sister, happened along at that point and asked what was going on.  We explained and I said "Maybe they could stay with you for a few days..."  She Walked Away.  I cracked up laughing, because it felt like vindication that they are and have been challenging lately.  Her own sister was all "Nope, I'm out."

Kevin and his brother intervened and told their mother that they were absolutely not returning home until the power was back on and had been on for an hour or two.  As neither of them can drive at this point, they were stranded at a motel.  A place, crappy motel or not, we would have gladly traded with them.

Before we left the party, Kevin called the power company one more time.  The person he spoke to and said that there was someone on site right now and that our power would be on by six o'clock.  It was about 5:00.  Because we had heard it all before, we were skeptical.  Kevin expressed his skepticism and was assured all would be well.  He ended the call with "You will know if it isn't because heaven help you if we drive 45 minutes home to find we have no power."

And, yeah, we got home and no power.  No trucks or people in sight.

I might have called and yelled.  Actually yelled.  And cursed.  For about ten minutes.  The words "Stop talking" may have been used.  and "I'm not done."   I lost my sh*t and I never lose my cool.  Never.  But it was so far gone that I didn't even feel bad. Usually I rationalize that they are just doing their job and  they are probably not having much fun either but I was so over that. 

The poor girl said something like "I can relate" and my head came off my shoulders.  "I don't know that you can. Do you have power, heat, and water where you are right now?  Yes, you do.  Is all the food in your refrigerator and freezer good because ours isn't.  Are your elderly parents home in a warm house? Ours are in a cheap hotel because of this mess. Don't tell me you understand."

Yeah, it was ugly.

A customer service manager phoning me thirty minutes later ugly.  Documenting my entire story and all my words ugly.  Hostage negotiation tone of voice ugly.  I'm sure I've won some sort of Customer Service Worse Caller Ever award this year.

And our power still wasn't on.  Nor would it be for another twelve hours.

1 comment:

Swistle said...

Favorite parts:

"But the fix was simple: turn on our power and I will stop calling."

"Oh yes, now that you mention it, it Does make me stabby."

"But the power was due to be back on somewhere between Any Minute Now and Never"

"There is no five minute conversation with my mother so fifteen - twenty minutes later, I am packing up to go."

"Again, things have gone horribly wrong if this girl has that attitude. Imagine if the Dalai Lama was all "Eff this Sh*t", this is my s-i-l's level of frustration at this point."

"Hostage negotiation tone of voice ugly."

OMG. I have never known you to lose your cool! I have to say, at the point where you lost it, it was VERY GRATIFYING to read.