Since I’m single and live alone, I am always grateful for my friendly, well-designed apartment house. The two-story building has a courtyard in the Spanish style, not unusual in Southern California. There’s a large pool, and  plenty of room left for a couple of pine trees, roses, shrubs and other lush tropical greenery. On the second story we have a wrap-around balcony, which makes it easy to visit with neighbors or just come outdoors to lean on the green iron railing to take in the sun.

This morning, I thought perhaps I was losing my eyesight because the lights were dimming: the time on my clock radio was definitely fading away, and the brand new fan from Target was barely moving. It was after 6 a.m., I wasn’t ready to start the day, but I needed to know what was going on and explored my place—no kitchen or refrigerator light, the cable box for the TV was off and so was the computer.  As I checked out other devices, I realized nothing electrical was working.

Did I forget to pay my power bill? I looked at my checkbook—nope. I opened my front door and spotted Mary, my neighbor from across the courtyard, who was up and dressed. Bob, another neighbor, was coming up the steps to his apartment. Mary had the answers: she had woken up at 5:30 because of her allergies and realized we were having a brown-out, when all the lights dim but haven’t gone out. She’d called the DWP and they’d actually answered the special number she called—they were working on it. Bob had been to the corner grocery and had seen the DWP truck and noticed the light at our fairly major intersection was out.

Dept of Water & Power at work.

Dept of Water & Power at work.

Mary and I chatted for a while about life without electricity. Phones might not work—she had opted for a landline, which is unusual these days, because it was the only thing that worked during the 1994 major So Cal earthquake. But she needed her blow dryer to get her hair in shape for work at the law firm downtown. Making myself beautiful was no challenge—I would spend the day in front of the computer editing if the electricity came back on.


What if it were out for hours? I’d miss my morning GMA (Good Morning America) on TV as I ate breakfast. I could eat my usual fruit—the water was on to wash it (although we had a plumbing problem the other day when the water was turned off for several hours), but there’d be no toast. Luckily, I had a gas stove, so I could heat the water for tea. I could have spent the day catching up on my reading and give my editing a break. I still haven’t finished the third volume of 50 Shades of Grey. And the pool was filled with water and available for a swim.

When we lose a service we take for granted, it’s time to appreciate how comfortable our lives are in the U.S. There are many places on Earth with no water, much less electricity. And it’s always time to appreciate the people you live amongst. Sharing your good news or your challenges is part of being human, and I’m very grateful that I have great neighbors.

The power came on again by 7:30 a.m. I imagine the DWP didn’t want  their bigger customers, Ralphs Grocery or Walgreens, to lose business. So, we apartment dwellers were only mildly inconvenienced.

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