It’ll take more than Irma to leave us powerless

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"Mama, you want a Chick-fil-A?" the Tybee police officer asked June Saunders when he went to check on her (and her Maltipoo Camee Rae) Tuesday afternoon. Saunders, whose son is on the force, wasn't actually sure what the nice young man's name was. "They all call me Mama," she said. Photo: Jennifer Brett, jbrett@ajc.com

There’s something about pine trees swaying in a sustained 40 mile-per-hour breeze that brings religion out in all of us.

Like many of you, I was beseeching the heavens Monday as Irma strolled into town, the lights first flickered and many of us plunged into darkness.

After immediately polishing off a carton of ice cream and my phone’s battery, the reality of life as a modern caveman set in. Netflix withdrawal kicked in almost immediately. Why hadn’t I watched every episode of every show I ever liked yet!?

I almost wept. Then I dusted off an oil lantern and began exploring the cave.

It’s surprising how often a person hits a light switch when entering a dark room in a house they know doesn’t have electricity.

Over the next few hours I considered various medieval entertainment options. I went to a corner of my house where a younger me had put up shelves and populated them with the ancient form of information storage and transfer known as “books.”

After reading a few yellowed pages by yellow lantern light I realized I could not spread my fingers apart on the pages to make the font bigger and gave up. They were so dusty I was sent spelunking through the blackness of the medicine cabinet for Benadryl.

Then I strummed a guitar for a few minutes. I thought about writing a song called “Power to the People” but realized John Lennon had already beat me to it, again.

Then the lights came on! For the first time in many years I saw true joy on my wife’s beautiful face.

Then the lights went off for several hours.

We considered a board game, but I am accused of cheating at Scrabble so often (always keep a “U” and an “I” up your sleeve in case you get a “Q”) it really sucks the joy out of crushing everyone who dares jiggle a bag of lettered tiles anywhere near you.

Then we sat down in front of the lifeless TV, cracked open a bottle of red wine and began conversing. Before long we deduced we knew as much as about each other as we were willing to learn and hit the hay early.

At 4 a.m. or so we were awoken by the blessed shrieks of carbon monoxide sensors, fire alarms and other reborn electronics. The water heater was able to provide a hot shower before work.

My complaints are silly, of course, because many in Atlanta are still powerless. For them, life brings greater challenges than boredom. They have to throw out spoiled food and, increasingly, maybe even an especially smelly husband, child or Florida cousin.

Some people lost their homes. Some lost their lives, including two people in our area crushed by trees.

Even in darkness, there are reasons to be thankful.

Neighbors are helping neighbors.

Thousands of utility workers are braving long hours to return our lives to normal.

A Florida nun picked up a chain saw and began clearing debris.

Yes, even without electricity, there is a power in the human spirit. But, if my Internet isn’t working by the time the new Star Trek series starts streaming I may change my opinion.


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