Thursday, January 29, 2009

Drinkin' expired Nyquil and bitchin' about the weather

Ok, It's 3am and I feel like holy hell. Painful deep chest cough, muscle aches, pounding headache, and I can't breathe. I just took some Nyquil that expired in March of '07. Ahh, that was a good year.

It's been that kind of day. That kind of week.

First, my partner in crime at work was out of town, which is always a signal for all hell to break loose. I don't know if it's because he's doing all this stuff behind the scenes to keep things running, and when he steps out it all comes crashing down, or if it's just bad luck. But I had a whole series of WTF? problems. One was coming and going so fast I couldn't get a good look at it. The database would go nuts and I'd start trying to track it down and then everything would be fine. Then 10 minutes later it would happen again. Just about the time I'd start to see some potential explanation, it'd be gone. It was like playing Whack-A-Mole. I was on a conference call for 4 1/2 hours Tuesday with all of us scratching our heads.

All this in the middle of a snow-ice-snow storm that's been causing havoc all over, with stir crazy kids who haven't had school for days and who are very hard to keep entertained.

Then this afternoon, the power goes out. After about 30 minutes, we start thinking about contingency plans. For us, no electricity means, among other things, a) no heat, and b) no water. Theoretically, I have a solar charged deep-cycle battery that will run our heat stove for about 2 hours, but we just used it not that long ago (during the last outage), and there has been little sun and plenty of snow cover. It had no juice left.

We've had outages before, but never under these circumstances. And given these particular circumstances, it was likely to last for a while. So we decided to try to track down a generator. Of course, we're not the only ones with this thought. The proper time to buy a generator is not during a power outage.

After a few phone calls, I find a place 20 miles south of us with a few left. And I know there are several other stores in that same area that might have them too, just in case.

Only, our vehicles are encased in 1/4 inch of ice. I can't even open the door to start the engine or get the scraper out.

After much pounding and pulling, I was finally able to get the passenger door open. I started the engine and got to work on scraping. Then I realized it was a pretty futile task.

So I left the motor running and walked over to a neighbor's house to see what kind of generator he had. A good 20 minutes later, and the minivan is still nowhere near drivable. More scraping, more whacking. More scraping, more whacking. More advice from my 5-year-old son.

Eventually I cleared enough that I could feel sort of safe driving 20 miles on awful roads. And when I got to the aforementioned store, the only thing they had left was a $3000 diesel generator. Diesel - that stuff that prefers to congeal in really cold weather. 3 grand. That was just not going to happen.

We tried another store. Sold out. The next two weren't even open. And the big shiny new home improvement store doesn't open it's doors until next week.

More phone calls. 20 miles in the other direction from our house (so 40 miles from our present location) is a store that has a few left. Not a ton of options available. So my son and I set out on the next leg of our quest. The roads are, if anything, worse than before. I'm not sure how, since it hadn't rained or snowed or anything in the meantime, but we weren't making very good time.

We finally walk into the store that had, and hour ago, "a few" generators left. Fingers crossed....

One generator. The last one. I stood by it, waiting for an employee to come into view. I wasn't leaving the side of that box for any reason. I asked if there were any other options. I asked him to get me a flatbed cart. We grabbed several other supplies. We made the purchase.

Now it was time to load the beast into the back of the minivan. Only the back of the minivan was still encased in ice. The window was clear, but there was still 1/4 inch of ice aorund the outside, not to mention a good inch of ice on top, where it's hinged.

So me and a couple of store employees start banging and scraping and prying and pulling. It probably took another 15 minutes to get the door to open. We get it loaded in and the guy asks for my receipt so he can mark it as loaded or whatever.

Only there's no generator on my receipt. I was -> <- this close to getting a $700 generator for $80. I never even noticed the total. So now I have to go back in and get this thing paid for. Thank goodness we're getting a tax refund soon.

So on the way home, we get stuck behind a car stuck in the snow, miss 2 traffic light cycles trying to get him out so the rest of us can go. Then we get behind some slow moving trucks, which can't be passed because there's only one lane cleared on the highway. When we start getting close to home, everything grinds to a halt because of an accident. I take a "shortcut" through town, which I'm pretty sure took longer.

I get home and the house has a definite chill. The candles are getting low. I've been gone a good 4 hours or more by now. The remaining 2 kids missed me and want my attention. But we've still got to unload and set up the generator, so I head out back outside to get the power cord and stuff...

And as I'm walking up to the front door, all the lights come on.

On that note, I shall now attempt once more to sleep, without actually being able to breathe. Wish me luck.


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At 1/29/2009 7:22 AM, Blogger JBTW said...

All I can say is... :(
Optimistically: At least your generator will be ready for the next event! (& you didn't get stuck with the $3000 one.)
This weather sucks!

At 1/29/2009 9:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

With all due respect, I'd make sure that you have whatever this donkey runs on before the next snow. Unless it's Nyquil '07.

Good luck. Sound like a hell of a day.


At 1/29/2009 10:45 AM, Blogger Wendy said...

In your spare time, please start writing your screenplay. I swear, your day sounds like an awesome movie ... I see Jim Carey playing the part of you. Can't you just see him trying to scrape the ice off the van ;)?

On a side note, I totally feel your pain. We had a similar storm not long ago, and looked for a generator (yes, a power outage is NOT the time to go looking for a generator :). We didn't buy one, that day, or for the next week - eventually, when the power was back on, we bought one for $350 :). Luckily, we have a woodstove, for heating and cooking and making water hot, and we're on city water, which means we don't need an electric pump.

Glad you got your power back, though. I hope you feel better soon.

At 1/29/2009 3:44 PM, Anonymous leslie said...

I agree with Wendy. I followed this story with a hankerin' for popcorn.
Didn't mean to laugh loud enough for you to hear me when you wrote, "And as I'm walking up to the front door, all the lights come on."
Sorry. Really didn't mean to.

At 1/30/2009 1:45 PM, Blogger e4 said...

Yeah, I can see the whole Jim Carrey thing. I'll start working on that.

I might need some more Nyquil to pull it off though....


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