Nothing underlines how dependent we’ve become on our technology like a good blackout. We’ve all felt that sense of instant dread when all the electronic humming falls silent and whatever it was we’ve been working on just vanishes into a black screen. Then the silence is replaced by anguished screams and pleading. Human nature laid bare.
We were without power at work today for about thirty minutes, and I think it’s to our credit that the place didn’t turn into Thunderdome. Most took it as an invitation to an early lunch at a place that actually had power. Those whose jobs urgently needed electricity were slightly more panicked, although there wasn’t much they could do beyond waiting and hurriedly eating the ice cream sandwiches in the freezer before they melted. The rest of us just took to wandering about the building. It beat sitting there staring at a blank monitor. Flashlights started appearing everywhere, and not just regular flashlights, but heavy-duty survivalist stuff, like this was a dry run for the zombie apocalypse or something. I guess their owners were thrilled to be slightly justified in having them. And then there were the die hards with their laptops, barely missing a beat, and probably wondering what all the fuss was about.
Word started getting around that this was a big outage, not just affecting our building, and that we were looking at a couple of hours before power was restored. And I have to admit, that kind of excited me. It wasn’t even so much the possibility of getting sent home early. It was more the shared sense of minor calamity. This wasn’t life or death, but it was something we were all in together, and it dropped all the roles and titles and just made us a bunch of people figuring out what to do in a darkened building. Granted, I’m far enough down the totem pole that this wasn’t a major issue for me, but despite the interruption in routine, it seemed to relax everybody.
It was with a small amount of disappointment that the lights came back on in about a quarter of the time we’d been told it would take to fix. We had to go back to normal. Oh well.