Airport sittings

Friday, December 15, 2006

I still don’t have power. The electricity went out at two thirty this morning. I know the time because the Castle alarm system has a “feature” where it starts beeping incessantly when the power goes out. You have to press Cancel at an alarm pad to turn it off. That means I had to get out of bed, go downstairs, and bang the button. If I was capable of channeling anger through my thumb, that panel would have been in big trouble. The alarm system is designed to work on batteries in the event of a power failure or if someone cuts the power lines. I don’t understand why it feels the need to beep. It’s pretty easy to figure out that the power went out: The cold air and the blank alarm clock clued me in to it even without the beeping. I guess safety before sleep is the alarm company’s motto. It’s probably better that it does beep. I can imagine some scenarios where bad buys cut the power to the alarm box and wait for the batteries to run down. I just needed a place to channel my anger at losing power and being woken up and not having enough food in the house—especially since my thumb is disgustingly weak.

After waking to my vapory breathing, I used my phone’s internet to check my mail to see if work was closed. It was, momentarily warming my cold heart (hands!). The local papers, at least the online versions, didn’t have much information on the power outage. I used the last of the Castle’s hot water to take a long shower. I then set out on a short drive to reconnoiter the damage. I figured if the outage was limited to my immediate area, I would be able to find a place to hole up, eat lunch, drink coffee, and write (assuming an adequate electrical outlet—not always a safe assumption). After driving through a dozen broken lights on the way to the highway, I realized the outage was not limited. I decided to turn back. Not surprisingly, no stores were open to buy food. While driving home in the van last night, one of the rider’s wives informed us about long lines at the supermarket checkout. We joked about how ridiculous people were to wait in long lines to buy food because of the risk of a little rain. I mean, this is Seattle where we have rain every day during the winter. It wasn’t that funny this morning. The storm last night was very abnormal for Seattle: we’re not used to crazy winds and flooding streets.

When I returned after my military reconnaissance, I scrounged the Castle for food. My cupboards were in a sad state. My house runs on electricity, and I do not have gas for the heater or the stove. That means I could only eat cold prepared food. Since Doolies isn’t around I didn’t have much in the way of edible food. I settled for a power bar and crackers. I tried a sliver of cheese on my crackers from the warming fridge, but the cheese had an aftertaste of decaying food that threatened to gag me. The taste may have been in my mind (the fridge smelled of it, but the cheese was heavily packaged), but in my mind or in the cheese is the same thing. So crackers sans cheese and power bars it was.

After lighting a fire in the fireplace and finishing a couple of New Yorkers (it’s almost time to admit defeat and throw out a few months worth of magazines), at around noon I decided it was time to brave the elements. The crackers and power bars were not going to hold me. Near the airport is a large mall. There are many restaurants and bucks of stars there, and it is only a short drive from there to the airport. I headed in that direction. The roads were slow because of the broken traffic lights and the closed streets, but it didn’t take long to arrive at the highway. The exit leading to the mall was a different story. After inching through four mergers and three blinking lights, I arrived at the mall. The mall itself had power as evidenced by the packed parking lots. I thought better of going into the mall, as I figured it would be crowded from refugees from the power outage and holiday shoppers enjoying their weather-related day off.

The traffic lightened as I passed the mall and I quickly realized why. Except for an overcrowded Sizzler, the surrounding restaurants, shops, and, worst of all, bucks of stars were closed. I weighed my options and decided to head to the airport. I knew the airport had power, and there was one decent food place before security, plenty of coffee shops, electrical plugs, and even internet access (for a fee).

It’s now 4pm and Doolies is scheduled to arrive in about an hour. After waiting in a long line for food and buying a large mug of coffee, I found an empty outlet next to four recycling bins and sat myself on the floor and against the wall for a bit of computer time. Except for this rushed entry I can’t say this was a particularly successful writing day. It’s nice to have electricity, internet, and food, however. I guess I should be thankful for the small things.

I had more to say but I need to pee and Doolies should be here soon. I know as soon as I stand and leave the electrical outlet, somebody will swoop in and take my coveted spot. I hate the vultures. They’re looking at me now, seeing me weaken, watching me struggle with my bladder full of water and yummy caffeine. I must not give in. It is too late for me. Go on without me. (Wait, who am I talking to? Yes, the power outage has turned me mad. Or was I mad already?)