Thursday, October 19, 2006

Our crazy adventure

This is a true story about the crazy adventure my family has had in the last 24 hours. This story is so crazy you probably won't believe it — you probably won't even be able to read it all — but I'm going tell you anyway.

The short of it is that we have spent the last almost 24 hours with no electricity because we thought the power company shut it off, but all it was was a blown breaker.

Here's the long story. My kids were on the computer at 6 p.m. yesterday and I was fixing their supper when everything electric in the house totally shut down. I finished fixing their supper and we ate while I silently figured that the electricity had been shut off since I hadn't paid the bill, which was due two weeks previously. It was nearly $200 that I did not have and wouldn't have until the end of the week. Mind you, none of the other utilities for this house or our other one we are trying to sell have been paid for this month.

After we finished eating, I went through my bills as it was getting darker in the house. I indeed found an unpaid electric bill due Oct. 5, but surprisingly I found a shut-off notice with a disconnect date set for Oct. 17, the day before. It evidently came late last week when I was going to the hospital an hour away every day while my father was recovering from serious heart surgery. The envelope hadn't even been opened.

My husband came home to total darkness with me trying to herd the kids in the tub and to bed before they stumbled in the dark and hurt themselves. Now he's the one that always thinks the bill hasn't been paid when something shuts off, and he's almost always wrong, but this time he wasn't. He was slightly miffed, not at me but at our bad financial situation brought on by unexpectedly having to keep up two houses on our income that can barely support one. I was expecting a couple of checks by the end of the week; if both arrived they should have been enough to cover the electric bill and maybe even the rest of the utiltities, but one of my checks sometimes doesn't come until Saturday.

I wasn't upset about the situation — you can only do what you can do — until he brought up the fact that the one good car we have is in the garage, the door of which is, of course, electric. I was supposed to be somewhere for work the next day. The car he's been using to get back and forth to work is parked outside but we decided it wasn't reliable enough to get me to my work and back in time to get the girls from school. I realized that I just wouldn't be able to get to my work for the next day, but maybe something would work out for Friday, when I was supposed to go to the same place.

We turned in early, all snuggling in the same bed and thankful that the weather was nice and we didn't need any air. It had been hot during the day but cooled off that evening and we were very appreciative.

We got up early the next morning with the alarm on my cell phone piercing the darkness. A few minutes later everyone got dressed by flashlight, which was rather exciting until, of course, the batteries wore out. My husband and I dropped the girls off at school and he brought me back home with plans for me to walk to school that afternoon and walk the kids back home.

It had started raining by the time I got back home, and there wasn't much for me to do in a dark, dreary house. No computer, no phone, no coffeepot, no nothing but waiting for the mail to run, hoping there'd be a check in the mail. I tried to do a few things but finally the darkness and the pattering of the rain took over and I went back to bed. My cell phone rung at almost noon. My husband decided it was too cold for us to do any walking this afternoon. He came after me during his lunch break and I took him back to work.

I checked the mailbox after I got back home, not really expecting a check and if it actually came, I didn't think the amount would be enough to cover the electric bill plus the reconnection. I nearly had a heart attack when I opened it and it was $200!

After making a trip to the bank, I hustled down to the utility payment office to pay the bill plus the reconnection, and the teller only took the amount for the bill. I explained to her that I needed to have service reconnected, but she said we weren't in her records as disconnected. I let her know that our service indeed had been shut off at 6 p.m. last night and I wanted it turned back on. Again she said we weren't down as disconnected and they don't turn anyone's service off after 3 p.m. every day. She suggested that perhaps it was a breaker.

Immediately I called my husband and he told me where the breaker box was. I flipped the main switch and you won't believe it, but every light in the house came on!!!!

Now, I was glad to have electricity back but aggravated that all it was was a stupid breaker switch that we could have flipped last night! We didn't know though, since that had never happened at this house before, and of course we had the dreaded shut-off notice with a disconnect date set the day before to add to it.

You live and learn I guess. That is one crazy story if you ask me.

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