Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What If...?

The power was off on Monday morning when I first hopped out of bed. I thought for a minute. No power means no coffee unless I fire up the grill and ruin my teakettle over an open flame. I went back to bed. Didn't go back to sleep though. Kept thinking, what if . . . ? What if . . . ?

What if the power was off all day? I would have roughly two hours of time on my laptop. Wireless router probably wouldn't be working. I'd have to get out, go to a coffee shop. Hubby would have to unhook the electric garage door, because I don't know how, and I think it takes muscle. Not that I don't have muscles--I just don't like using them on hard stuff.

But then, what if the power was off all over town for some bizarre reason? Streetlights out, no power at the coffee shops.

Groceries. What if I didn't have enough groceries? What if this was a real emergency? What if . . . what if the power grids crashed all across the country?

Things in the house started beeping. The carbon monoxide detector in the hall beeps when the power goes out and it switches to battery. Not just once--it beeps once every twenty or thirty seconds. Something in my husband's computer/radio room beeps continuously. Then the radon detector jumped in. When it's deprived of power it beeps four times every thirty minutes or so.

It was pretty obvious I wasn't going back to sleep, even though hubby slept right through it all. I got up, unplugged the carbon monoxide detector, stuck it in the computer room with the other beeping contraptions, and shut the door. Well, except for the radon thingie which I accidentally (really!) forgot and left in the bedroom with hubby. Didn't matter. He still slept through it.

By then, I was curious and was thinking of dozens of horrible scenarios that would cause a massive power failure that would test Americans' ability to survive. (This, by the way, is a common problem among writers who tend to have very active imaginations.) I started downstairs to turn on one of the battery-powered radios to see what was going on.

And then the power came on. Thank goodness. I went directly to the coffee pot and hit the On button. I never found out why the power was off. I never asked. But now I have a bunch of ideas for thriller novels, and I have a list of things I need to buy . . . just in case.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

That's an occupational hazard for writers--our imaginations go wild!

Mystery Writing is Murder

Anonymous said...

What-ifs are great story generators!

Karen Walker said...

Love this, Patricia. Glad it came back on so quickly. Can't imagine what it's like living in your head.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Good morning, Karen, inside my head is indeed a mysterious place to be. LOL

Hi Elizabeth and Carolyn. At least we have no shortage of story ideas, right?

Galen Kindley--Author said...

Actually, I lived through the “Power Outage from Hell” in Seattle last year. It was a consequence of the “Unheard of Snow Storm of the Century,” which was followed by the “Biggest Snoqualmie Valley Flood Ever.”

In total, we were trapped in our home…the one we’re trying to sell by the way…for about a week. Wouldn’t do any good to get to the supermarket; they were closed too. We survived, but it was miserable with a capital miserable. Ugh.

Maybe modern day types are just spoiled. The pioneers probably would barely have noticed. Their routers were battery powered.

Best Regards, Galen
Imagineering Fiction Blog</a

Elspeth said...

It's amazing where our imaginations take us, isn't it? I have had similar fears when we've had power outages and (I confess) have had stupid thoughts at the same time - as in "Since the oven isn't working I'll use the microwave...wait...")

Glad to hear it was a short outage (blame the electric gremlins) and I love Galen's idea of a batter powered router.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Those pesky 'what ifs' always play havoc with sleep and I find there is no way to get them to go away once they've struck!

The Practical Preserver said...

Toilet tissue. Always stock up on tt. In fact, the amount you have correlates positively to the seriousness of the disaster.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I can see I'm not alone. All of you appear to have active imaginations and creative ways to deal with them. I especially love Elspeth's thinking she'd use the microwave since the stove wouldn't work, and Karen's reminder to stock up on tp. Both of those brought a giggle.

Galen, your storm must have been as bad as some of the hurricanes that hit while we lived in Florida. When faraway states are shipping in truckloads of water, you know there's a problem. Back in Illinois and Indiana, we had blizzards. There's nothing like being snowed in with kids, especially teenagers!

Patricia Stoltey said...

Note to Jane: I'd had two night like that in a row. This afternoon I caved and took a nap.

Helen Ginger said...

You wrote your own story with all the what-ifs! It is annoying when things we depend on go wrong. You prepared yourself for the long haul, just in case, though. And I like that you accidentally left one beeper in the bedroom.

Straight From Hel

N A Sharpe said...

I like how your "what ifs" led to some ideas for your future work! It's amazing how much we rely on electricity and everything comes to a grinding hault when it goes off. I know I hold my breath with every passing thunderstorm (and there's plenty of them in Florida).

Nancy, from Realms of Thought…