Lifestyle & Culture

Technology’s Dark Side

November 11, 2018



LAST NIGHT, home alone eating applesauce and watching a movie on Netflix, suddenly everything went black. My first thought was that I had died, but because I was still holding the dish of applesauce I thought probably not. Next guess: the power was out, which was odd since it was a beautiful night. No rain, wind or disturbances of any kind.

Remembering that blind people go out to the market or a job or take the subway or do anything at all aided only by a stick, I cautiously groped my way around the furniture to the nearest box of matches and lit a candle. Then I lit some more and, grumpily accepting that I wouldn’t find out how the movie ended, at least not right away, went to bed. A few hours later, an intense beeping woke me. The power was still out, but our bedroom plug-in carbon monoxide detector was screaming for me to get out of the house!, flashing “GAS, GAS, GAS, GAS,” over and over in bright red neon. No dummy, I got out.

There I was, standing in my driveway in the pitch-black outdoors at one in the morning with a furiously beeping carbon monoxide detector on my hands. My cell phone was in my bathrobe pocket, so I called my husband somewhere where it was two hours earlier. He assured me there was no gas in the house, that the thing was probably beeping because of the power outage, and that I should go back to bed. I wrapped the beeping thing in a blanket and left it inside my car, then trudged up the stairs to die peacefully in my sleep.

This morning the power was back on, and I was alive. The digital clocks on all the appliances were flashing “RESET.” When I opened my refrigerator, it beeped and flashed the words “Power Outage” in case I hadn’t noticed. Our land-line telephone with built-in voicemail intoned, Your outgoing message has been erased, “Your outgoing message has been erased,” “Your outgoing message has been erased.”

A call to Maine Central Power revealed that an animal—no mention of species—had come in contact with some wires at a power sub-station, causing a shortage that plummeted four adjacent towns (total pop., approx. 37,000) into darkness for eight hours. So much for all that technology.

—Andrea Rouda

Andrea Rouda blogs at The Daily Droid.

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