(To go to the beginning of this story, please click here.)
The next morning, we somehow pulled it together to go to church….
We felt soothed to be with our church family, even though I didn’t know if any of us had matching shoes, or how we smelled (deodorant, anyone?). When our pastor said in his usual jovial voice after Divine Liturgy, “and you are all welcome downstairs for coffee and donuts,” all I heard in my head was “you are all welcome downstairs for electricity!”
It was a bright and sunny day, and we lingered among our friends and soaked in the familiar yet astounding beauty of the church, the perpetual kindness of the people, and the feeling of some sense of normalcy in our life. Community is so life-giving. Even though most in the community hadn’t even found out about our particular situation yet, we just felt good to be sitting among them. Others told of their own struggles and asked for prayers for different reasons, and this was a reminder to me that we are all struggling in some way, even if some days are better than others, and even if we keep our struggles shared privately or among our closest friends or even to ourselves.
After we returned to our own town, we stopped by an Ace Hardware in a neighboring town and used what little money we had to purchase their smallest generator. I don’t usually plug companies, but this little one in Amish country has a manager who is an inspirational and respectful gentleman, and the small weekend team who works with him are the same way. These are good people.
When we plugged in the generator, after almost three days without power, the feeling of victory was astounding. It brought out my inner Italian…. I had a “YEAH!!! Take THAT!!” feeling about the situation, a feeling that the poor weren’t altogether helpless when we band together. I felt like that young teen I used to be, ready to take on the world, and determined to not let “them” get to me…. all those naysayers and “you’re just gunna fail” people. Take THAT!!!
We were giddy when we turned on a light. Yes “a“ as in “one” light… 🙂 and the giddiness increased as we turned on a fan and when we turned on the wifi. We plugged in a TV and we plugged in our phones. We still had no running water yet (only bottled water gallons for ourselves and our pets), but we would have to wait for Monday to sort that out, so for now, we watched some Steve Harvey (Little Big Shots) on YouTube and laughed. It felt good to laugh and to feel a small victory…. for me, comedy is a natural anti-depressant. Sometimes, when times are tough, we need comedians. Laughter can, at least briefly, pull us out of our current state where we are focused only on our troubles, and laughter is good for the heart.
The next day was The Day That We Might Get Power Back On.
Of course, it started with the same big company shenanigans of different customer service people saying different things… they “couldn’t take a check, well, not in person,” even though they said they could on Friday…. they couldn’t take a check made out to their own company…. they couldn’t…. after the 17th cold “I’m sorry, ma’am,” I just got off the phone. God was present through all of the situation, yes, but my irritation at the irrationality of too big a company who didn’t seem to have their ducks in a row had finally gotten to me. I didn’t want to speak to anymore automated systems that said “I’m sorry, I didn’t quite get that” in their male android voice. And when I gave the last four of my social and translated it for the Android Voice into a four letter word for “it,” with my teen snickering in the next room, I knew it was time to put the phone down.
We had already made the payment the best we could, and I had had enough. So we waited, while I had visions of Sugar Plum Fairy Huge Generators in my head so that I never needed to speak to this “monopoly” again.
That afternoon, there was a knock at the door. A gentleman had returned from the company…. but he looked different to me, so I asked, “are you the same guy who came out Friday?” He said yes….. he had more gear on and extra protective glasses over his eyes, but I recognized the same shiny SUV.
What was different was his smile.
I had thought over the weekend, oh I can’t WAIT to report this dude and the company… I can’t WAIT to contact the press…..
He gently asked, “Are you going to be ok? Is everything ok?”
I stopped in my tracks as he turned the power back on in a minute or less. I told him, “yes… but it’s been quite a weekend… quite a challenge…. I tried to pay them Friday but they wouldn’t take the payment and…” (I rehashed the story to him.) I saw him roll his eyes beneath his protective eyewear as he said, “well, they should have been able to take that check…. always get paper bills because the electronic stuff is a mess and has no guarantee…”
I randomly told him how somehow God had been looking out for us this weekend (not expecting him to respond about that “God stuff,”)…. and he agreed, and I could see now that he was a man of faith. Then, he said something I had never heard before. He said that the original Jewish language has no word for “coincidence.” And at that moment the bells across the street rang, and he gestured to them. He told me he doesn’t read as much scripture as he wishes he could and that he’s not perfect and he’s no saint or anything…. and I told him: Goodness, I’m the same way.
And as he was getting into his car, he told me he had been praying for us all weekend.
I wanted to cry, but I didn’t, and I said with all my heart, “may God bless you.” And I promised I would pray for him, and he promised the same….
I didn’t expect that ending. It was like it was all meant to be (even though we still need to find out where the mysterious bill came from.) I imagine he has a job where he is commanded to do these difficult things because his company told him to (if he still wants a job), kind of like those people who have to carry out an awful duty of removing a family from a home that has foreclosed; and inside their heart is breaking, but they and their children need to eat, too. My personal opinion is that the people in the higher ranks should carry out this dirty work, so that they can see a face (or the many faces) behind that “unpaid bill.”
Perhaps there are some huge companies who really do care. I believe those are the ones who will last through the end, because people will feel loyalty toward them…… who knows….
At any rate, I lost power, alright. But I never had it anyway.
All my love,