On Saturday morning my son and I set out for Titusville in separate vehicles. He took his trailer so he could put the shutters back in storage. He didn’t get any breakfast because he planned to eat at a drive-through. All of those were swamped. So he decided to go on and though I had planned to get gas I decided I had enough because the lines were long.
We got home while the day was still young. The power was out, but I had my cell phone so I called my neighbor had been looking after my cats to tell her I was home. She came right down to deliver the house key. We’ve known each other for almost fifty years and our children played together when they were small. After I made our son a chicken-salad sandwich, (yes, I could tell the mayonnaise from the refrigerator was still fine because he didn’t get sick) he got to work setting up the generator. He had done his own shutters and generator for the storm at his house. So at my house he was an experienced starter-upper. As I followed him around and we casually visited, he said he was enjoying himself tinkering with the generator. He also said he didn’t envy the house-cleaning I had in store, which I assumed meant he preferred machines to dust-cloths.
He finished starting the generator and taking down the shutters by noon. He took the shutters in the trailer and I drove my car so I could bring the key back home. He then took off in search of a fast food line he could get through. My neighbor told me later that he stopped at her son’s house to say hello.
Our power was out for five days. Dear son-in law-gassed up the generator and it ran another fifteen hours keeping the food cold and giving me places in the house where there was light as well as a room AC in our former garage. Our yard man came and set to work cleaning up after the storm. Our lawn men came. They did their work and asked if I needed any more help. One of them was getting married the following Saturday. He indicated that he’d much rather be mowing lawns than tending to his fiancé and her mother as they fretted over the wedding plans.
One of the neighbors came by and noticed the tire was flat on my car. Later that evening, I discussed it with my husband over the phone and he told me just what to do—get the yard man to help me fill it at the gas station I watched carefully and I now I can do it by myself if I have to.
The next day, five houses on my side of the street had power, but I didn’t know it until my neighbor told me. I still had no power. I called my daughter and she asked if there were any line men around. There sure were…just across the street. I walked over to talk to them and apparently, it was the way the generator was permanently wired into the house and had something to do with pulling plugs and turning on breakers to get it on. He started to explain it, but sometimes my short-term memory takes a break, so when he said he’d come help if I had any trouble I asked him if he could come right then, before I burned the house down. I’ve had a fear of electricity ever since I was a small child. It’s my very first memory. I saw an electrical outlet in the wall and a bobby-pin on the floor. My baby brain said they belonged together. I stuck the metal bobby pin in the electrical outlet and va-va-voom. It fit. I got quite a buzz out of that.
The linemen had come from Indiana which is where my husband was. I asked the lineman about his family and about the hours they were working. He had three children and was now working sixteen hours on and eight off. He was cheerful. He missed his family, but to all the men I met the challenges seemed as if they were welcome adventures.
Today on my walk I heard the shrill screams of children coming from the school grounds up the street. When I got there, I saw a line of kindergartners looking small against a huge fire engine. They were watching a demonstration of the distance a fire hose could shoot into a retention pond. Every time the fireman who was hunkered down with the hose made an archway of water, the children cheered. The two men with the fire engine were as slow-moving and patient with the children as could be. Surely they were man-angels, too.