Tuesday, February 27, 2007

My Evening Yesterday

5pm: I leave work.

5:15pm: Arrive home. Move trash bins curbside cursing upstairs neighbors for stuffing cardboard boxes that contained their new Target furniture, apparently, making the bins overflow with trash.

5:20pm: I scrub my hands repeatedly.

5:30pm: After a quick change, I decide to deal with the hideous 23rd Street traffic to get to SFW in Arlington for Dietz & Watson Turkey Pastrami (which is strangely better than the Boar's Head version at Harris Teeter and half the price). I was craving it.

6pm: I sit in traffic on 22nd and M where two police cars with lights on are parked on the side of the road. A cop is directing traffic. I make my way up to N Street where another light is out. I notice that the Embassy Suites and Marriott are completely dark.

6:15pm: I walk into my house to find that no lights work. I scavenge my utility container to find the massive flashlight I'd bought after the Northeast Blackout in 2003.

6:30pm: I call 311. "Hi. I have a power outage that appears to be a large blackout in NW DC. There are police officers directing traffic. Could you tell me what's going on?" "There's a power outage." "Yes, I'm aware. Is there any information on why or when this will be resolved? Should I find somewhere to go stay for the night?" "It's a power outage. Do you want to be connected to Pepco?" "Are they open 24 hours?" "Yes." "Okay."

6:35pm: "Yes." "Um, is this Pepco?" "Yes." "I have a power outage at my house that appears to be a neighborhood outage. The police are directing traffic. Could you give me info on the problem and when it will be resolved?" "How did you get this number?" "Um, 311 transferred me." "Well, this is the wrong number." "Is this Pepco?" "Yes. You need to call a different number." "Okay, do you have that number?" "Yes. It's..." "Can you transfer me? I don't have a pen available as my house is dark." "No." "Um, okay. Well, let me find a pen." "The number is..." "I need to find a pen. You're going to have to wait a second." "The number is..." "Stop. What is your full name?" "Do you have a pen?" "Yes, now I have a pen." "The number is..." Click.

6:40pm: I'd written the number on a paper towel. A drop of melted snow comes down from the balcony above me. I squint to read what I just wrote as it's now been smudged. After getting a french operator when I dialed 1-877-797-2662, I realize the number is 1-877-737-2662. "Please enter your 10 digit Pepco account number to report an outage." I push zero. "I'm sorry, the number you pushed is not a valid entry." I enter a random 10 digit number with the hopes of being connected to customer service. "That number is not valid. Please reenter your account number." I hang up.

6:45pm: I call 311. I accidentally push the number 2 and am told that my call may be recorded in Spanish. "Hi. I called about 20 minutes ago. You transferred me to the wrong person at Pepco. They can't give me any information on the power outage. Do you have information yet?" I am told that I am being transferred to an English dispatcher. I repeat the same thing. "No. We have no information." Click.

6:55pm: I call 311 back. "I was just hung up on." Then I repeat my story. "I can transfer you to the Police Department's Public Alert department." "Thanks."

7pm: "District of Columbia Police." "Hi." I repeat the facts. "How did you get this number?" "311 transferred me." "Well, this is the Police Press Office." "Um, okay. And suggestions?" "I live in Maryland, but at the bottom of your bill in Maryland there's a number to call to get an estimated time of when power will be restored." "Do you have Pepco?" "Yes. Hold on, let me check on-line and see what I can find for you." "Thank you!" "Okay, you should call this number..." It was the same number given to me by the guy at Pepco 20 minutes earlier.

7:15pm: I dig through my mail sorter in the dark to hopefully find a Pepco bill Kate hadn't retrieved yet. I am able to find one and call the automated number. I enter the account number and confirm my address "Only the house number in your address will be stated for security reasons. Please confirm this information." "Someone will come by your house by February 27th at 3am." "Would you like a call when the power is restored?" Yes. "Is this your number?" No. I entered my number instead of Kate's. "Someone will call you to confirm that your power has been restored."

7:20pm: Out of curiosity, I call the Government closing alert number. I hear that the severe weather storm warning was released at 3am on February 26th.

7:30pm: I call the Master to see if she has power a block away from me. I get her voicemail. I then call Suave, Vive, Peter and the Pea to see if they are home. I realize the book I'm reading currently is about a murder and not something I'm content reading under candle light alone in my apartment.

7:35pm: I hear my neighbor come in. I pop my head out the door. "We have no power. I called though. They're completely unhelpful. I did put in my number to be called when it's restored, so I'll let you know." "Thanks. Do you need candles or anything?" "No, thanks, I have plenty. I'm a single girl. Who doesn't?" "Yeah. I just got a sandwich at Cosi. Now, I'm going upstairs to have a romantic dinner under candlelight for one." "Oh yeah, I have sandwich meat I just bought. I can make a sandwich." "Yeah, glad I got this from Cosi." "Cool, well, let me know if you need anything." "Thanks. You too."

7:40pm: I call my mother. "Could you Google 'Power outage in DC' to see if there's any current info up?" "Yeah. No, nothing is showing up."

7:45pm: I gather all my candles and light them around my room. I stick my Nano headphones in my ears and set-up to paint something. Eye calls. She's outside. "Are you home? All the lights are out. Do you have candles on?" We had to exchange bags. She had mine, and I had hers from a couple weeks ago. We chat for a bit.
8pm: "Thanks for stopping by my seance." She laughs.

8:30pm: Vive calls. She fell asleep at 6:30pm. "I'm so sick." "Oh no! Well, I was going to see if I could come by, but now I've been hanging out in the dark, and it's not so bad." I hang up and proceed to jump at my own shadow. Okay, it was sort of scary.

8:45pm: The Master calls. She does have power a block from me. I get ready to go over to her house. What can I say? I'm a baby when it comes to being alone in the dark.

9pm: I am over at the Master's place. I have brought my cell phone to charge, and am turning on my laptop. I sign into GMail to find the following Alerts from DC. Geniuses. Because, yes, if we have no power, we definitely have internet access? And, it took them 4 1/2 hours to send anything out! "Still being worked on" below, implies they e-mailed beforehand. They never did.

Utility Alert
Feb 26 10:22 PM(12 hours ago)

Update / Pepco reports the problem is still being worked on and restoration time at 12 midnight.

Utility Alert
11:31 pm (11 hours ago)

PEPCO reports all power restored at 2314 hours.

Yeah, so that was my night. I went to bed at 12pm.


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