The Aftermath: Why does a small thing like a power outage brings us to such petty levels?



What scared me on August 14th was not the fact that we had no hydro-it was the fact that having no hydro turned many of us into weak and insecure individuals.

I work as a cashier at Gravenhurst Home Hardware, and I was only at work for ten minutes when the power first went out. Everyone stood very still, and very silent. We all began staring at the lights, as if that would make them turn on faster. Not sure what was going on, we began looking around, hoping that the answer was close by.

Of course our cash registers weren't working, but the show must go on. Our manager came up to me, handed me a calculator and a pad of paper and said, "Can you start cashing people out?"

The look of confusion on my face was very similar to those on the faces of customers, who were clutching merchandise and mumbling to their friends and family. All I was thinking was, "With a calculator?" That would mean I would have to write down all of the product numbers and prices of what the customers were buying, add the tax in (myself!) and then count out their change. If they wanted to pay by credit card, I had to use that "old-fashioned" credit card machine. Considering I barely passed math and never learned how to accept credit cards without an omron, it ended up being a very surreal night.

We were one of the few stores that stayed open. When the sun started to go down, we held flashlights over our solar powered calculators to keep going and to make sure customers could go on with their day. It was hot, uncomfortable, and yes, it took a little longer to cash people through without our advanced technology, but we did it. The best part was: everyone got along, and communicated well with no sign of panic. We all joked around, and got through it. After all, did we really have a choice in the matter?

I spend a lot of time on my computer, but since using it was a no-no at the time, I actually resorted to spending time with my family after work. Yes, my mother and I played Scrabble by candlelight. Yes, she made up words and rubbed it in my face when she won. I learned that she likes to win, which was something I never knew about her before. It was something I may have never learned about her, had I been able to watch television. Since there was nothing that could clutter my train of thought, I had a very relaxing and enjoyable night. This made me wonder why we put so much pressure on ourselves, why we rush around like lunatics, and why it is so hard to face ourselves and to face each other. We have turned our lives into a blur. Even with our palm pilots, cell phones and big screen televisions, have we really advanced? Do we give ourselves time to appreciate these big expenditures?

With no hydro came no hot water, so that night I slept in my uniform, and went back to work the next morning to assume my position behind the calculator. It was quite hectic, as customers came into the store to buy propane, batteries, flashlights, bottles of water, and other accessories to make them feel more secure.

As hour fifteen approached, people began to get very panicky-what did this mean for flights? Did anyone know when we would get power again? How were we going to get money out of the bank? How were we going to eat?

One man even had the audacity to yell at me since he couldn't use his debit card, as if I was the one who had made the transformer short-circuit so half the world would be cloaked in blackness. My dad passed people on the streets that were arguing over something so petty as a five-dollar bill being dropped on the ground. Are we so spoiled that a night without television feels like the end of the world? Is it so awful to know that without our bank account balances we are all the same?

The media has turned this issue into such an explosive story, even though the power outage is not the emergency.

At the hardware store, everyone got along very well. We all co-operated to make sure the situation would go by with as little hassle as possible, which is how it should always be. As soon as the power was running again, so were the people.

Although we are advanced technologically, it has caused us to be very behind with our lives. I think a little thing like a power outage should stay little. We are all wondering who to blame for the power going out, but we are ignoring those who know the answer: ourselves.

Krissy Brady is a recent high school graduate whose future plans include becoming a movie writer/director. Currently, Krissy is the editor of Brady Magazine and a reader contributor for CosmoGirl! magazine.

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