If you have been watching the news, gone on Facebook, been on Twitter, attempted to refresh your Instagr.am feed, have any friends in the DC metro area or are actually attempting to “live” here yourself, you know we have been having a bit of a power problem. As in, we didn’t have any for a week. There are developing countries that have more reliable power than the Washington, DC metro area.
Listen, I don’t want to sound like a complainer. You should know that I am no stranger to black outs. I’m from California. We have scheduled outages, black outs, brown outs, rolling black outs, even tumbling tan outs (okay, we don’t actually have that last one, but it sounds kind of fun, right?). We are so used to losing power and trying to conserve energy that we don’t run major appliances before 7pm! Ask any child how to set their thermostat and they’ll chirp like robots: “78 when you’re at home, 82 when you’re away.” It’s dogma! In high school, my parents wouldn’t turn on the air conditioning until it was above 90. And we would never, never, ever turn on the air conditioning and leave a window open. That is just silly. And, besides, it makes Mother Earth cry.
I thought I left that all behind when I moved to this shining city atop a hill. I expected summers free from the dread of waking up and realizing I was late for work (again) because the power went out (again) and my alarm clock (yes, you read that right, not my smart phone) had died (again). That wouldn’t happen in Washington DC!
To quote Aaron Sorkin’s first president, Andrew Shepherd, “Did you know that when the City Planners sat down to design Washington, D.C., their intention was to build a city that would intimidate and humble foreign heads of state?” A place like that would surely have power – and I’m talking about that in the literal sense.
They only time Washington, DC lost power in The West Wing was during the State of the Union. Which is in January. Do you know what DC is like in January? Cold. It is very cold. So basically, I thought, the power should only go out when it is cold.
Turns out, there were some things Aaron Sorkin forgot to mention.
1. The power goes out if it’s windy
Windy might not do it justice. The power goes out if it’s very windy, as in tornado-like winds are blowing through DC (Which is another thing he forgot to mention: tornado-like winds?! This is why I avoided the Midwest! But I digress). Leo McGarry never walked into the Oval office and said, “Mr. President we have to declare a state of emergency for DC, Maryland, and Virginia because millions of people have been without power for 5 days and it’s hotter than hell outside.” Or “Mr. President, there is a serious hotel shortage because citizens can’t sleep in their houses when it’s so damn hot and they’ve lost electricity (again), it’s tourist season, and there is a major conference at the convention center! There is literally no room left at any inn in Washington, DC.”
2. The power goes out if it is too hot
You read that right: too hot. Look, I get Washington DC is old. Most of the houses in my neighborhood have 1903 on the original deed, and that is only because the hall of records burned down that year or something like that and they had to start somewhere. So I get that my house may not be in tiptop shape. But our power goes out if it gets above 90 degrees. Do you know how often that happens in DC? All the time. The pizza place on the corner has power. The Senator who lives down the block has power. Who doesn’t have power? Us. No one in The West Wing ever had to sneak into the office to sleep on their boss’s couch because the office still had power. Josh Lyman slept in his office because he got drunk. Sam Seaborn slept in Toby Ziegler’s office because he was mad at his dad. But no one slept in their boss’s office because the power went out. Not once. Not never.
3. Sometimes it just goes out
When I lived in the giant no-men-no-booze dorm sometimes the power would just go out for no reason at all. I would wake up in the middle of the night to the emergency lights flashing and the fire alarm ringing like we were under attack. We would all have to evacuate to the street and wait for the police to show up and search the building. I have no idea why the police thought that intruders would go unnoticed in our crowd. There were 100 women standing on the street in their pajamas. I mean, just look for the person not in their pajamas and play “One of these things is not like the other.” To add insult to injury our “house” was across the street from the Senate Hart building. So while we waited in the dead of night to be allowed back into our no power dorm, the Hart building would light up the night sky. Why? Because obviously they had power. We wouldn’t want an office building to go without power at 1am. That would just be uncivilized.
Now you may be thinking that I should have named my blog ‘Things Stefanie Forgot to Tell Me: Her Blog Would be About The Weather.” But come see me after you have roamed the neighborhood at midnight looking for a neighbor who is still up and has air conditioning so you can sleep on their couch. Then we can talk about my obsession with the weather.