Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Home Is Where the Heat Is

Six days without electricity. Six days without heat. Frankly, I expected an even longer recovery period, but Friday afternoon we got our power back. (I guess there are advantages to having an elementary school at the end of your street.) Of course, our internet is still out, but that's okay. More time for reading. And more time in the library sponging off their wi-fi.

Here in New England, people are generally somewhat cold to strangers, but the outage seemed to warm everyone up. Instead of exchanging waves or a nod of the head, we approached each other and swapped war stories. We commiserated with complete strangers at restaurants and gas stations. Neighbors helped clear debris and trim dangerously hanging branches. Friends and acquaintances offered up hot meals, hot showers, and places to stay.

It wasn't all rosy, however. O, the idiocy! Some morons moved charcoal grills or generators into their homes. Other clods drove through unlit traffic lights with nary a glance in either direction. And then there were those whose idiocy impacted my friends and family:

  • My wife Denise works for the town. On Monday she received a voicemail saying her office was closed, and that she might receive a call from her supervisor about coming in to help out in other areas. She never got the call. On Tuesday, when the rest of her co-workers were doing shifts at the local shelter or the emergency operations center, she again heard nothing. And then, on Wednesday, she was told that because she didn't work Monday or Tuesday, she either had to use two vacation days or work both days this weekend.

    Apparently, her supervisor's supervisor took on the responsibility of calling everyone, but when she didn't reach someone on the first try — because a landline was down, or because spotty cell service meant it might take two or three attempts to get through — she just moved onto the next name on the list. No emails were sent. Therefore, even though the automatic messages implied Denise didn't have to work because the office was closed, and even though she waited to be called in, and even though she was willing to work, she was never given the option, and is now forced to work two extra days because of someone else's mistake. I'm not a lawyer (thankfully), but that doesn't sound very legal to me.

  • My friend Scott — who, with his wife, hosted us for four nights once their power came back — works for a local oil company. On Monday, his manager told him to work from home because their office was without power, and they had no cellular service in the area. With the myriad calls they received from desperate customers because of the outage, he ended up working a full day plus 2-3 hours of overtime. On Tuesday, Human Resources informed him that because he didn't come into the office, he wouldn't be paid for his Monday hours. Last I heard, no one in three levels of management above him had yet stepped up to support him. I'm not a philosopher (thankfully), but that doesn't sound very moral to me.

So, that's the aftermath in a nutshell: warm and idiot-filled. I hope those who are still without power get it back soon, those who've been abused by idiots get their vindication, and I hope you, dear reader, never have to go through what we've had to this past week. Or if you just did, that you never have to again.

I should note these pictures are not of my home and yard. This is the carnage from four houses over. House, relatively untouched. Cars, not so much. The tan SUV had its windshield and roof crushed, and I'll zoom in on the left side of this photo, so you can see how their other vehicle fared after they moved it away from the SUV...

Yep, it’s been that kind of week.


  1. Man, a lot of mixed messages going out last week. At least you got power back. That's something to be thankful for.

  2. Yikes--stuff like this tends to bring out the best and worst. We were in NH and left the day before all that came down--talk about timing. What a mess...glad you're okay, but you'd think employers would cut their personnel some slack under the circumstances :( Hope things get back to your relative normal soon...:)

  3. Jeffrey, power's nice and all, but it's heat I'm truly thankful for. If I'm going to freeze in my own home, it better be because I have a giant bowl of ice cream in my hand.

    Bridget, unfortunately for many employers in this economy, it's all about the almighty dollar (which can now net you over a 1/4 gallon of gas!). I'm glad mine (a major insurance company) values its employees enough to do things the right way, and not pull that kind of crap.