The Thanksgiving That Almost Wasn't

We forget how dependent we are upon the power grid, until it goes away at a critical time! Let us Give Thanks for AEP Repairmen!

 THIS IS MY OWN PERSONAL BLOG, and not a news story... but it comes close.

It was almost 11 a.m. in the quiet town of Athens when it happened.  The sun was shinning, the temperature had climbed nicely, and your humble narrator was snoozing blissfully in his bed while the wife was making preparations for the Thanksgiving meal in the kitchen.  At least two other teens were also sleeping in.

Suddenly, a loud explosion sounded, waking me from my dream of finding my old college professor and interviewing him for the TV News (don't ask, it doesn't make any sense to me either).  I immediately recognized the sound as a power transformer tripping with a loud bang.  

We used to hear it at the old house about once every six weeks in the small valley behind our house, due to overloads.  I had gotten in the habit of frequently saving my work on my computer because the power failed so often.  I knew that the faster you dialed AEP, the faster they would respond.

So I rolled over, picked up the phone and dialed the Athens Police first... to report the outage, as I didn't remember the 800-number off the top of my sleepy head. 

I joined the rest of the clan as we shuffled to the front windows to look and see what had exploded. My daughter says she felt the ground shake. My wife says she saw the flash outside the window. We all craned our necks to see a burning car or a plume of smoke.  Nothing.

So I got out the phone book and dialed AEP's power outage line. Negotiating the phone tree, I finally got to the human who took the information and suggested that in 20 minutes they might have an estimate for when the power might be restored.

In the meantime, my wife's dinner preparations were stalled, dead in their tracks. No power, no mixer, no microwave, no lights, but at least we had the gas oven.  However, the gas oven uses an electric ignition system, and so, it shut down. Now the turkey was just sitting there in a luke warm oven, waiting as well.

I pulled on some clothes and walked outside. Yes, you could see the fuse relay that had tripped, even from the ground.  And atop the pole, there was an unmoving squirrel's body. My daughter could see that from her window.

So I attempted to call AEP back again, but this time, the automated phone tree would not let me get to a human until after two more tries.  Finally, I got a clerk who took the additional information on which of my neighbors were also without power and exactly where the power pole was, and the fact that we could see the fuse and the squirrel awaiting their arrival. And, she took note that our dinner was at risk.

She reported that she had had nine such phone calls already, and this was within the first 14 minutes since the power snapped off.

With no Internet, no TV, no lights, no power, I shuffled to the bathroom to take my morning shower. Just as I was getting dressed again, I heard a small beep, and turned around to see the lights on in the house.

I ran to the window, but just like that poem about the Night Before Christmas, all I saw was an AEP truck backing out of our driveway. The wife reports he was there about five minutes and used a fiberglass pole from the ground to reset the fuse.  The squirrel remains atop the transformer still.

Now she's worried that a vulture will swoop down and trip another outage.  But dinner is back underway. 

AEP had originally estimated the outage to be repaired by 2:30 p.m., some 3 1/2 hours after the first report.  But in fact, the power was back about 45 minutes after our call.

So, a tip of the hat to the poor AEP repairman who got called out on Thanksgiving Day to reset our power transformer relay, and a hearty thanks for rescuing our dinner.

I had had visions of that scene from "A Christmas Story" where the family stands around in dismay while the Bumpas' dogs make off with their turkey dinner..."No turkey, no gravy, no left overs... gone, all gone!"

But AEP came through for us today.  And for that, we are thankful.

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