The Night the Lights Went Out, Oh, Everywhere
I’m sure everyone’s heard umpteen blackout stories by now. Here’s the first few hours of mine.
Thursday afternoon. I manage to take a couple of hours of vacation time from work. The plan was to go home, get changed into some lighter clothing, pick up the boy from daycare and head downtown to meet Laurel at our favourite noodle stand in the Village By the Grange for dinner.
The power went off just as I was getting ready to leave home. I was in the can at the time. With all the construction going on in and around the neighbourhood, I just assumed a local line had been cut. It wasn’t until I got out to the car a few moments later and tuned into CBC Radio One that I was made aware of just how far this power outage had spread. New York, Detroit, Cleveland? Holy shit!
Elliot’s daycare is just over one kilometre east of home. As it was rush hour, I was going against the bulk of traffic. I pick up the boy and we’re downtown bound, seeing as Laurel is now stranded. Good citizens have taken it upon themselves to direct traffic at the major intersections. We park in a coin-op lot and stroller it over to the Grange where most of the stalls have closed up for the day. I explain to Elliot what’s going on. He understands that the lights, streetcars and subways are broken. “But the buses are working.” I’m yet to see a bus. I try Laurel on the mobile. Fast busy signal. I decide to check our home voicemail. Five new messages in the span of forty-five minutes. One of her later messages lets me know that she’s met up with a couple of friends amidst the sea of people in the streets. She’s calling from their mobile, which is working as it’s on a different network. I call her back and assure her that we’re okay and that we’d made it downtown before things got too crazy.
As I’m hanging up from the call, a friend that lives in the immediate neighbourhood shows up looking very flustered. It turns out that she’d just gotten out of her elevator, where she’d been trapped for the past two hours. I cut the idle chit-chat and hand her the pay phone receiver.
We meet up at our friends, Marc and Laura, where the kids play and the moms hang out and talk. The dads head up the street a few blocks to an establishment and enjoy some quickly warming beer on a patio as the sun begins to set. The streets are an eerie calm.
Cut to nightfall. We drive westbound towards home along the highway; the boy asleep in the back and the radio on to catch the latest reports as to what the hell is going on. We arrive home to a mostly empty parking lot where a cool breeze hits us as we gaze at the stars before heading into the sweatbox.