Sunday, September 5, 2010

Delayed Gratification - the Sunday Essay

It is lovely here in the wake of Earl - everything is shiny and bright - the chickens bouncing around so happy not to be cooped up, the tomatoes righting themselves - they were bowed but unbroken - and of course the tip tapping of all of us here on our computers, our electric guitars, our CD players and our cell phones. For we have electricity after a whole nine or so hours without it. Yes, we got off good. It came on right after we had heated up the Hurricane Chili on the propane camp stove and dishwater on the barbecue.
We heard the dulcet tones of sirens after a short time of the power being back on. Sweet Patootie was sure they were coming to rescue some poor schmucks who'd had their generator's hooked up through the electrical grid and had sparked a fire upon the power being turned back on. We'd already noted that the post-hurricane air was noisy with generators in the neighborhood. 
Why do you suppose people rushed to put generators on, I asked in all innocence? Was it because they had to pump water for their toilets because they hadn't filled their bathtubs up? Was it to boil water because someone was having a baby and couldn't get through the hurricane troubled roads to deliver in the hospital? No, it was because they couldn't be without their electrical devices - if you're on high-speed even your lap top on battery won't deliver the internet and besides there is NOTHING to do so we need to watch videos.
It seems we simply cannot bear to be without convenience anymore. Not for an instant.
The other day - the day before Earl arrived - I was walking up the hill from having a swim in the ocean with Hoagy. He hadn't loved it like he used to but he'd at least gotten his exercise and cooled off in the process. We went past the park and the mailboxes where people wait to meet their children off the bus. There were two large trucks pulled over. The first one was idling and there was nobody in it. Behind it two men were squatted down having a chitchat. And maybe a smoke, I'm not sure. I called out cheerfully 'Did you know that your truck is running?' Duh, of course he knew. The fellow replied 'hor, hor, yep - it's pretty hot out.' and I said still full of false cheeriness 'but there's nobody in it.' and went unmerrily up the hill while he chortled on while rolling his eyes at his buddy.
Do you think they can stand a moment of being uncomfortable? Why should they? They leave their trucks running in front of the store that is attached to a daycare (think about it) so they can get a case of beer that has been pre-chilled.
Oh, I know, I should mind my own business. I shouldn't think (but I do, I do think) that they don't get the connection between their desire for instant gratification and Earl, a climate that now requires alternative energy sources, the crazy and totally unnatural hot weather we are having, etc...
And just so you don't think I'm some kind of purist holier than thou - I loved it when the power came back on! Sort of.
We were going to play dominoes by candlelight and that can be pretty fun. Instead we all disappeared to our little spots to tap tap tap...or in the case of some of the teens - shower. Yes, they were completely horrified that they might get SMELLY. In nine hours. They had been moaning and groaning about the absolute horror of it all. For if we are somewhat addicted to immediate gratification at least we can remember when we didn't have the world at our fingertips twenty-four seven. I mean I can remember dial-up for heaven's sake. Or gasp - my Selectric typewriter-which I can assure you I wouldn't have lunged for at the first flash of power. Nah, it would've been my record player. That's right folks - I had a record player. It was turquoise.
Here's a few photos of the aftermath of Earl...


Mason Canyon said...

It is amazing how we have settled into a life that has to have its conveniences. Sometimes I think Mother Nature gives a little tap (like Earl) to remind us without our conveniences we still survive (some just not as happy as others). LOL

Me, I love the conveniences but miss my old manual typewriter.

Glad all is well with you and your family after the storm.

Thoughts in Progress

Liza said...

Earl hit you a lot stronger than he hit us. We didn't lose power at all...though the candles were within reach and we had new batteries in the flashlights. We had the generator ready so we could plug in the refrigerator only...and though I would have missed the tap, tap, tap, I was thinking that reading one of the library three books I haven't gotten to would have been fun. Instead, I got up Saturday and went to work.

Jan Morrison said...

Mason - we went today to Peggy's Cove. It was crowded with people come to see the high surf surges...fantastic. Then we went to a farther beach to body surf the rollers. great fun.

Liza - it is so interesting, isn't it, that although we WANT to do these other things our conveniences have become our masters. oooh. I feel a haiku coming on.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

This reminded me of some of my recent conversations with my kids.
"Papa is not letting me watch TV."
"You don't have to watch TV, do something else."
"But I want to watch TV."
"You watch too much TV. Do you know, when I was your age, I didn't even have TV."
"Then what did you do? Weren't you bored?"

Bored? I don't think I even knew what the word meant.

Googlover/keishua said...

That was a lovely essay. It is funny how much fun we can have without technology but how we still feel so tied to it. I sometimes unplug for a few hours and then after that-sit in front of the t.v.
Small steps.