Weekend Assignment #253: Roughing it

I’m substitute-teaching “guest-professoring” another Weekend Assignment for Karen:

Weekend Assignment #253: You’ve got no electricity, no Internet, no phone, and no car for two whole days. What do you do with yourself?

Extra Credit: What do you usually do in real life when an evening power shortage leaves you in the dark?

I hate power failures at night. In one respect, they aren’t so bad in the summer when daylight lasts longer, but the tradeoff is that without air conditioning or even fans running, it can get too hot to sleep. In cold weather you can get under the covers, but there’s more darkness. There’s not much to do except sit and talk with your family for awhile, really, and that’s not a bad way to spend your time…unless you’re by yourself and don’t even have that option. In our house, we’re pretty much sitting in one spot, too; we have plenty of flashlights, but one of the dog’s neuroses from her life before we adopted her is that flashlights freak her out, so we try not to use them for long. I usually end up going to bed early because there’s so little I can do; but then I don’t sleep well, because I’m afraid the power will be out all night and then my alarm won’t go off and I’ll oversleep. (The dog isn’t the only neurotic one in my house, apparently.)

All of that would mean that the evening/night portion of those two days without electricity, etc., would not be much fun for me, although knowing that I wouldn’t have power would relieve the “when is it coming back?” anxiety, and I might get some sleep after all. At least things would be quiet.

As for the days, I think they could be pleasant, as long as all the deprivation wasn’t due to a storm or something. When we go to my in-laws’ fishing cabin in the Sierras, we get a taste of this, actually, since there’s no cell-phone reception or Internet there; we also experienced that at Yellowstone last summer.

I would hope that my laptop battery was fully charged before the electricity got cut off, because I could at least get a few hours’ usage out of it. I couldn’t do anything online, obviously, but I could write, listen to music, or do some of that file cleanup I never seem to get around to. However, I’m sure it’s no surprise that I would spend a good chunk of the time reading. This is a perfect opportunity to immerse myself in books. It’s also a good time to get out some of the board games; it’s been a while since we all played Monopoly, or Dog-Opoly, or Tall Paul and I challenged each other to Trivial Pursuit (that’s my game; his is Scrabble).

With no electricity, we’d need to be careful with food; anything perishable would need to be kept on ice or eaten as quickly as possible. As long as it wasn’t raining or snowing, we’d probably cook most of our meals on the outdoor grill. If we didn’t want to cook, we’d have to go and get something to eat. Since we don’t have a car, hopefully there are some restaurants or shops (that have electricity!) within walking distance – then again, when walking is your only option, you might define “walking distance” a little more broadly. But if the weather’s nice, long walks would be a nice way to pass the time – and to walk off the meals!

I think one day of this could be a nice break, but as the second day went on, I suspect I’d get restless, and so would the rest of my family. (I have a feeling I’d be the least restless among us, to be honest.) I wouldn’t miss the TV or phone very much, and I’d have to find a way to cope with the Internet withdrawal – but I wouldn’t mind the reading and relaxing time, and I would make some good excuses not to do chores or other useful things. I’d kind of like to give this a try – what about you?

If you’d like to play along, write up your answer in a blog post, and leave a link to it at Outpost Mâvarin!

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  1. The food thing could be a problem. We microwave a lot of stuff! 🙂

    The winter is not the best time to lose power around here. It happened once and it was not fun.

  2. Mike – Yeah, we use the microwave a lot too, so that part would be a challenge.

    In 1994, when I still living in Memphis, there was a major ice storm, and our neighborhood was lucky enough NOT to lose power. Some places didn’t get it back for two weeks. Granted, it’s not as cold there as it is in Chicago, but still, winter is definitely a bad time to be without electricity.

  3. I remember the Great Blackout of 1965. It was probably overnight for us, or maybe not that long. But it was a family adventure. We actually ate dinner from cans shoved into the fireplace! I’m not sure I even have any canned food now, except chicken broth.

    Your family games is a is a good one. Something like this scenario would definitely be more fun as a group experience!

  4. KFB – I remember stories about that blackout. We were living in the Bronx then; I was a toddler and my sister was a newborn. I didn’t realize that it had gone so far upstate – I had thought it was just an NYC thing.

    I agree; I think if you were all alone, the peace and quiet would get TOO quiet pretty fast.

  5. It would depend on whether or not it’s a work day. I work in a job that is akin to emergency services and so would have to find a way to get to work or communicate that I couldn’t be at work. If it’s a natural disaster that’s taken out the entire county, I would need to do that even more so since my position shifts under those circumstances, or even just walk to the nearest office so I can check in.

    If it’s a weekend or work isn’t an issue at all, then I think my answer would be much the same as yours, Florinda. 🙂

  6. Wendy (Literary Feline) – My agency has programs like that, where people need to be on call 24/7 if needed. I’m lucky I don’t work in one of those positions.

    I had originally thought of this question more in terms of a retreat by choice, but it probably is more likely to happen due to a natural disaster or mishap of some kind.