Last night was a mixed experience. The first part was great. We had tickets for the San Francisco revival of Cole Porter’s Anything Goes. We rode BART; no agonizing over parking. We had an excellent Italian dinner at 54 Mint; I recommend it if you’re taking in a show. The evening was warmer than it has been. The show was amazing. The show was fabulous. The production number of Anything Goes that ends the first act has to be seen to be believed. (Yes, I liked it!) Rachael York, singing Reno Sweeney, out-belted every other voice in the cast (unfortunately including the male lead, who was good but not in her class) – a great singer, a great dancer. Musicals like this are the 20th century equivalent of the grand opera, and I love them even if the plots are silly (and they are).
The show over, we rode BART back, picked up the car, drove back to the condo in Adams Point where we are currently living while we remodel the house, and set about going to bed. Time, about 11:45 PM. I shut down both computers and started over to the couch to cool down with a crossword puzzle – and the place went black. I was just realizing that I’d heard a kind of a thump – when I heard another one, more clearly an explosion, and I realized the power was out. I probably heard a transformer (or two) blowing up.
Since the walls of the condo are all painted dark red, there’s very little light reflection in the place; and besides, a look out the window that is our south wall showed that there wasn’t any light to reflect. It looked like all of Adams Point was blacked out, from us to Lake Merritt and for at least 5 blocks east and west. Jim simply went to bed. I found a flashlight so I could wash up, then went to bed and started to fuss. I eventually decided I needed to get my cell phone (which had some power left) and report the outage to PG&E. PG&E eventually identified the problem and said that it looked like 2,700 customers were out of power, and they thought it’d be fixed by about 3:30 AM.
Back to bed, and still fussing. I don’t normally worry about power outages; but I’m not normally 9 floors up in a building with electric elevators. I started to worry, and I am a champion worrier. I’m also used to the idea that if the power goes out and I need to leave the house I can open the door and walk out. Suddenly the condo felt like a trap. I could walk down 9 floors if I had to – I’ve done it – but I’d have trouble walking back up. And what would I take? What if the place catches fire? We couldn’t even get the cars out – the security gates on the garage are electrical. How long will the power be out, anyway? The stove is electrical, we can’t cook. (I told you I was a world-class worrier.) I didn’t really sleep until the lights came on again about 1:30 AM, and I didn’t sleep well all night.
I now have a new slant on living in a high-rise. They have many advantages – no yards to mow and weed, someone else takes care of leaking roofs – but when the power goes out, they don’t feel so safe. In the days when I worked in a high-rise in San Francisco, they said that fire department ladders only reach to the 6th floor, although a check through Google shows that, thirty years later, they can reach the 9th floor, and some can reach the 12th. It seems to vary a lot. But if you’re on floor 25, the ladder may not reach you. One hopes they don’t have to try.
The weirdest thing about this whole experience? There was no mention of it in the local news this morning. Nothing. Twenty-seven hundred people lost power, and it wasn’t worth covering, even on the local blog sites. The only Oakland power outage Google turned up was the one last September when a squirrel got into a substation. That was 10,000 customers; maybe that’s the minimum.
They always seem to blame it on squirrels in our neighborhood. I’ve begun to wonder just who is smarter – PG&E or squirrels.