Monday, July 2, 2012

Number3Son and the Power Outage

One of the more surprising aspects of life in Northern Virginia is how often the power goes out. As far as I can tell, our power company operates on the premise that they will have just enough workers to keep the lights on under normal conditions -- but any major crisis throws the whole system into an uproar. Since Northern Virginia has some of the worst weather in the civilized world, we experience a couple of major crises per year.

So when a storm knocked out the power on Friday night we knew we were in for it. Sure enough, down the street from us a giant tree had fallen into the power lines, pulling down the lines, snapping a telephone pole, and blocking the street.

Sunday morning we still had no power, but we could hear chain saws coming from the downed tree. Number1Son, SmartMom, Number3Son and I walked down the street to see what was up. There was a crew there chopping up the tree. But they were not from the power company; they were worried about clearing the road. Still, it was good to see some progress.

But not for Number3Son, who has inherited his father's pessimism. He spent the next hour or so gloomily predicting that we wouldn't get power for another two months -- or maybe two years. Finally, in response to his siblings' claims that power would be restored sooner than that, he began to insist that we would "never" have power again.

Frazzled from the heat and with no reason to stay at home, we left our neighborhood and headed downtown, where we spent a pleasant day in various air-conditioned places. Even Number3Son started feeling better after he got some cheesecake. Finally, around 10 o'clock at night, we headed home. As we drove through Northern Virginia, we could tell that progress had been made -- there was significantly more power than there had been the night before. The mood in the van improved -- until we came to our street, which was still shrouded in darkness. We drove down to the fallen tree, where we saw that it had been mostly chopped up and cleared away, although the telephone pole and the power lines were still down.

Number1Son was extremely discouraged by these facts, as he realized that the power would likely be out for longer than he had expected. In fact, a general air of gloom settled over the van as we headed to our darkened house. But in the darkness, I could hear the cheerful voice of Number3Son calling out from his seat in the back: "You know, they've made a lot more progress than I expected."