Last early evening a transformer blew at the power station about a half mile from my apartment. It sounded like a bottle rocket whining with a loud pop at the end. Everything went dead and quiet. Neighbors started drifting out of their houses to peer around and ask questions about what happened. A plume of smoke could be seen in the distance. The apartments next to ours gates stuck shut and teenagers were climbing over and under them. I placed a call to 311 to see what was being done, and one neighbor and I took a ride over to survey the damage, asking of people out walking if their houses were without power too. They were. Kids got activated and started running around and did not want to take their baths for the school day to follow, taking full advantage of the excitement. I lit a few candles collected at Christmas, sprayed down with Off and sat outside with Fred Astaire kitty to observe the sociology in the moment.
Soon a couple of older people who used to listen to car radio, remembered they could do that and the game drifted through the complex. I prefer baseball myself. When I was a kid in Michigan I remember my Aunt Dorothy used to bounce up and down on her chair whenever her team made a home run, and the announcer on the black and white console TV saying with great vigor, “The Detroit Tigers are on the air!”
As it grew dark people brought beer and flashlights and conversation out into the night air and one man built a fire in his bar-b-que for light, although it didn’t last long. The thought was communal and sweet. For the children to play and not hurt themselves he said. After two hours the power came back on again, some of us clapped and shouted yay! Slowly everyone drifted back into their own inside worlds to continue what they were previously doing and to prepare for another Monday morning. For a moment I thought of the days of no electricity when neighbors used to sit outside and talk to each other, maybe over a glass of tea or lemonade and about how dependent we all are on our comforts and how we take them for granted. I hoped to myself if there is ever a real crisis that people will be just as friendly and helpful to each other, reflecting on and wishing for the good old days and a slower life. Then I went in to my air conditioning and computer to pick up where I left off.