Thursday, February 12, 2009

When In Danger, When In Doubt....

Run in circles, scream and shout?

by Cassondra Murray


We humans are a tough lot when faced with disaster. Or at least, we used to be.

I’m not so sure nowadays. Especially after the past couple of years and the disasters that have slammed the Midwest and southern United States.

Nine years ago, when we bought our present house, I went to the local rural electric co-op to get the power transferred to my name. The lady behind the customer service desk was what I affectionately (usually) call a Q-tip. A tiny little lady with a tuft of very white hair trimmed into a short, fuzzy haircut.

This particular Q-tip looked at me and squished her mouth into a tight circle. It was THE LOOK. The one that makes you feel like you’re in third grade and you’ve just been called to the principal’s office. She sat behind her desk and looked back and forth from me to the paper in front of her, first over the top of her reading glasses, then through her bifocals, determining whether I should, or should not, be deemed worthy of electricity.


She read from the paper, “It shows here that the address is..,” blah blah blah, she went on with the details, and finally ended with “and there is a pole in place on the property, with a transformer and a security light rented from us for $5 a month. By signing here, you agree to continue paying for use of the light.”

“There’s no security light on the property,” I said.

“Yes, there’s one on the pole,” she said, “It says so right here.” She pointed with her pen. “The previous owner had it for two years.” Her face got sort of crooked. Oh, wait. That was a smile. A sign the paper and go away smile.

“Nope,” I said. “There’s no security light on the pole.”

“The pole is outside the house,” she said. “You’d have to go outside to see it.”

Duh.

“Ma’am I know precisely where my electric service pole is, I’ve looked at it, and there’s no light. Just your ordinary, everyday transformer.”

“You probably just didn’t notice it,” she said, and shoved the paper to my side of the desk.

“I would notice a security light on my pole,” I said. “We specifically moved out of the city limits so we would see stars, not security lights. I don’t want a security light, and I made sure there isn’t one. Not even one with a burned-out bulb.”
“You probably didn’t recognize it.” She tried harder to smile. “There’s a lot of stuff up there.”

By this time the entire office was watching. I took a deep breath and knew the truth. They thought I was stupid and clueless. Because they think all of their customers are stupid and clueless. That’s the way it is now when you deal with utilities or anything even remotely technical. I sat in the chair and pulled it closer to the front of her desk and set my purse down. I propped my elbow on the desk.

“I grew up in the middle of nowhere, Kentucky on a barely-gravel road,” I said. I can castrate a bull, milk my own cow, make my own butter, and if necessary, build a barn. When I was eight years old and lightning hit the power poles, my dad taught me to go out there, look up at the transformer with a flashlight, and figure out whether the breaker was thrown so I could tell the power company whether it was just us or the whole neighborhood.” I leaned forward a little. "Eight. Years. Old." I shifted the paper ever-so-slightly back toward her side.


The Q-tip’s forehead creased into a bunch of wrinkles. I shoved my purse out of the way and leaned across the desk. “Pay a truck and a crew to drive twenty miles to tell you this, or just believe me, I don’t care, though this is a co-op and it’s my money you’re wasting. I’m not an idiot, I know what a light looks like and there is no light on that pole.”

The Q-tip sat back in her chair. What was this? A customer armed with knowledge beyond the free-gift choice at the Macy’s Elizabeth Arden annual makeup event? Shocking.

She reached for her phone. She called someone unseen. Ten minutes later, I walked out of there with electricity and no surcharge for a non-existent security light, thank you very much.

But I walked out with a heavier heart. My heart grows heavier each time I have to call the phone company about our DSL service, or the water company because they read the meter wrong, and I have to go through half an hour of “you're too stupid to recognize that your toilet has turned into Niagra Falls," before they’ll actually agree that something is wrong. I had to do this just recently, and each time, the experience gets worse. It becomes more of a “we know all and you know nothing” exchange.

Are they right? Am I the last of a dying race? Have most people truly become clueless, and what’s worse, helpless? This does not bode well.

We got slammed with one of the worst ice storms we’ve seen here a couple of weeks ago. It was below zero degrees Fahrenheit. We had no phone, no internet, no cell service, and no power. Thousands of people are still without power, and we’re having more bad weather. It’s getting cold again.

Stuff happens. Hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, fires and floods. The people of Kentucky are proving to be fairly resilient. People are, by nature, survivors. I tend to believe that if you treat people as if they have ability, most of them will rise to the occasion.

I come from a line of tough folks. Farmers. I’ve always been prepared for the disasters that normally happen around here.

When I was a kid, we had a wood stove in the basement. The shelves were packed with canned food and milk jugs filled with emergency water. We had a well, but the pump required electricity, so we had a backup supply in case the power went down. When the forecast called for bad weather, my folks stored up extra.

About fifteen years ago we had another major snow/ice storm. I lived in a different house then. I heated with wood. I cooked on that wood stove, used my collection of antique oil lamps, and we stayed cozy until the power came back on. We had batteries, emergency supplies, a chainsaw, and chains for the car tires.


It’s just the way I was taught to be. Prepared. And I was.

Until THIS house, that is. We almost didn’t buy this house because it didn’t have a basement. I feel at risk without, at the least, a cellar to store root veggies in, and to use for shelter from tornadoes.



It’s interesting to me how different parts of the country prepare in different ways. Some of my California buddies are freaked out by the very idea of a tornado. I wouldn’t have a clue how to prepare for a hurricane, or how to deal with an earthquake, but tornadoes? Meh.


The wildfires that are pounding Australia and the folks down under may be the most devastating disaster of all because there’s very little the average person can do, but still….wherever I am, I don’t want to be helpless. Or clueless. There's a picture down on the left of Sam, a koala saved by one of the Aussie firefighters. I couldn't help putting it on the blog. One bright spot in a horrible situation.

This house--our present home-- is dependent upon electricity. During the ice storm I had to shut my house down, schlepp my houseplants down the road to the neighbor’s, shut off the water and leave. We stayed with the neighbors who had power. But I hated leaving and I hated not being better prepared. I’m uncomfortable being completely dependent on the power grid in order to stay in my home. It goes against my raisin’ I guess.

I had to leave the dogs, the cats, and Thor, the crow, in the cold house all day and night while we were gone. We came home three times a day to feed and water and check on everyone, but I hated it.

Not gonna happen again if I can help it. I’m not sure how I’ll do it, but next time I want to be self-sufficient, at least for the short term.

I refuse to let the Q-tip and her ilk be right. At least she won't be right about me.

What about you?


What kinds of disasters strike where you live?

Have you lived through any?

Some people are more high-maintenance than others of course, but what type are you? Do you know what to do, and how to handle things when they need handling?
Can you turn off your water? Do you know how to shut the power off to your house?
When the going gets tough do you get going? Or do you get going to the nearest hotel with pool and day spa? (Hey, I'm not knockin' it. A hot tub was sounding pretty darn good mid-week of the ice storm.)

How long could you survive at home without electricity? Know any tricks or tips?

What do you do to be prepared?

93 comments:

jo robertson said...

Clever post, Cassondra! I loved the metaphor of the Q-Tip, too funny!

I'm of a generation who had the concept of preparedness ingrained in us. I think I've gotten soft over the last ten or fifteen years, but I still think I can bake bread from scratch and find the breakers and water turnoff.

We used to have a mega-food storage, bottled water, and emergency preparedness kits. I think most Americans believe that in an emergency the government will take care of the problems. Uh, not necessarily so.

jo robertson said...

Whoo hooooooo! I wasn't sure if I'd gotten the rooster or not.

The grandkids have tomorrow off school (can't quite figure out WHAT holiday that is!!), and I think the rooster might benefit from a little cuddling with little ones.

Cassondra said...

Hey, Jo, you get to take the rooster home for the day! You were after him though, weren't you? I thought I saw you comment a few days ago that you were gonna chase him down.

jo robertson said...

Ooops, realized I didn't answer any of the questions.

Earthquakes and fires -- that's California's diasters. Most folks I know have a three-day emergency kit packed and ready to go with essentials in case you have to evacuate your house immediately. There's no mistaking an earthquake. You know it when it happens even if you've never been in one before.

I'm a high-maintenance personality, but surprisingly calm during an emergency. It's like I step out of myself and do what needs to be done instinctively. Uh, and then I fall apart later LOL. I think a lot of us do that.

Cassondra said...

Well, I don't think the government SHOULD take care of us necessarily. There are always enough people in truly dire straits, without the rest of us turning into dead weight, ya know?

I guess I think everybody has times in life when they need a hand. But given the choice, I'd rather be in a position to help myself AND someone else if possible. At least to not be a further drain on the system, so that resources can go to those in real danger.

jo robertson said...

You're right, Cassondra. I was feeling a little lonely and have been aiming for the chook for a while!

limecello said...

Bah. blogger wouldn't let me post (and wow did the comments pour in since then!)

Congrats on the GR, Jo!

And nice post, Cassondra! I'm living in the Midwest - and today we had high wind warnings, severe thunderstorm warnings, flood warnings, and... my favorite? A tornado watch. At least it wasn't a warning. The power also went out for a bit - but thankfully came back pretty quickly.

I've experienced a few fires -but those were "only" dorm/apt fires - not like natural disaster fire. Um... flooding, driving was so scary. Earthquakes, tornadoes, obviously. A wind/dust storm...

But never a hurricane, or a landslide. Thank goodness. Nor have I been remotely close to a volcano eruption. That's what I can think of off the top of my head. And I'm *really* high maintenance. I need, love my power.

Cassondra said...

Jo said:

I'm a high-maintenance personality, but surprisingly calm during an emergency. It's like I step out of myself and do what needs to be done instinctively. Uh, and then I fall apart later LOL. I think a lot of us do that.

I do this too! At least to some extent. I mean, I can take charge in an emergency and get things taken care of, but later there's the crash from the adrenaline dump! I'm not surprised that you're this way, having brought up all those kids and kept them alive to adulthood! Heck, pregnancy and childbirth would turn me into a helpless heap. Ugh.

Natalie Hatch said...

Oh Cass I sooo hear you. I recently read "Life as we knew it" by Susan Pfeffer about surviving the unsurvivable climate crisis and I started thinking how I could improve my families survivability rating if some natural disaster struck. So we're starting with 72hr survival packs and we'll go from there.

Cassondra said...

limecello said:

I'm living in the Midwest - and today we had high wind warnings, severe thunderstorm warnings, flood warnings, and... my favorite? A tornado watch.

Yeah, sounds pretty much like our weather, though you may have gotten it first and maybe worse. I'm in southern Kentucky, so not truly midwest. I think you all get severe weather more frequently than we do.

Do you have an emergency kit or anything ready for outages? A plan or a storm shelter or anything?

And pooh on Blogger for not letting you post. :p

Cassondra said...

Natalie Hatch said:

So we're starting with 72hr survival packs and we'll go from there.

Oh, awesome! Where'd you get the plan for the survival packs? From the book?

flchen1 said...

Hi, Cassondra! Great post! I confess that I probably not terribly prepared--we're out in CA, so mainly we're concerned with earthquakes. We've got plenty of canned food, and I do know where the flashlights are, but I don't have a emergency preparedness kit or anything. We have talked briefly with the kids about what to do if there's ever a fire in our home, but haven't actually run any practice drills. As for water and power, I have a guess but should probably look those up and make sure! And uh, I agree that it definitely isn't the government's job to take care of all of us individuals in an emergency--sheesh! Step up and take some personal responsibility, people! (Uh, sorry about that... *backing slowly off the soapbox*)

Congrats on the GR, Jo!

Cassondra said...

flchen said:

And uh, I agree that it definitely isn't the government's job to take care of all of us individuals in an emergency--sheesh! Step up and take some personal responsibility, people! (Uh, sorry about that... *backing slowly off the soapbox*)


LOL! You're so funny.."backing slowly off the soapbox"...made me literally laugh out loud. It's okay. I was just on that same soapbox.

This is one of the things that falls into the "I know I should" category, but I don't know too many people who actually follow through. For us it'll be more involved--coming up with some type of heat for inside the house that will keep the pipes from freezing in a power outage. That would typically be a kerosene heater, but now that we have Thor, I won't burn something inside that creates any kind of fumes because birds are sensitive to it. I don't know if that would harm him or not, but I won't take the chance. So we'll be looking for some way to get our fireplaces in working order, chimneys lined, all that. It'll be a big deal. Leaving home is just not easy with animals. I think in the long run it's better to plan to stay unless the house isn't habitable.

With earthquakes, I guess it's a possibility that you'd HAVE to leave?

Donna MacMeans said...

Yay Jo - you nabbed the rooster!

I remember growing up with a fully stocked pantry in the basement for just in case...but the just in case then was the possiblity of a nuclear attack. LOL that my parents thought canned food and bottled water in the basement would do it in THAT kind of emergency (grin).

Other than the lights being out for several hours, I can't say I've had to survive a major natural emergency. Yes, I've seen the occasional tornado slip by when I lived on top of one of the hills circling Cincinnati. And there's often tornado warnings here that we all ignore. I know how to open the garage door in the event of a prolonged power outage so I can get the car out and my barbeque grill is always stocked with propane for an emergency cookout (grin). I have candles galore for lighting and decks of cards (and books) for entertainment. Hey - we're prepared for whatever.

Jane said...

Congrats on the GR, Jo.

We don't have an emergency kit ready. I know we're supposed to have batteries, flashlights, important documents, and credit cards/money ready. The only thing we're prepared for is the food and water. We have a pantry stocked full of canned goods and bottled water.

Helen said...

Well done Jo I am sure he is going to have fun with the kids and how is Emma going boy don't babies grow fast.

Cassondra I do love your posts and I agree why do some people always think you don't understand what is going on.

As you have said in the post Victoria has just been through the worst lot of bushfires Australia has ever seen but every summer we have bushfires here some worst than others and I can remember not so long a go there were bushfires only about 15 min drive from my place and I live in suburbia this is the closest they have ever been to my home we had burnt leaves covering the yard and we did all that we had to and made sure the gutters were cleared because of flying embers bought an extra hose so as there was one in the front and back yards in case we needed to hose the roof down and kept checking the outside.

Earthquakes tornadoes these I would have to learn a lot more about to keep us all as safe as can be but I would try.

That picture of the koala is just to me beautiful they have named her Sam and she is doing really well all four of her paws are bandaged because of burns and the fireman who gave her the drink of water his name is Dave has been to visit her at the house she is staying at.

Have Fun
Helen

Laurie said...

When we lived in Wisconsin(1987) we took a 10 day vacation in Florida. We came home to a flooded basement with every pipe in our hose burst. The electric heat shut off and the temps went -20*. What a disaster! 5 years later, same house in the country, a tornado went within a 1/2 mile of our house. 21 mile path of destruction, 2 died. Luckily we didn't have any structural damage but no electricity or phones(1992).
Since moving to Florida, I've survived 3 hurricanes. Francis & Jeanne( Sept 2004) made landfal right here in the Stuart area, One within 1/2 mile south and the next time maybe 1 1/2 miles north of me. The following Oct 2005 the backside of Wilma slammed us. We turn off all the circuit breakers because we lost a refrigerator and a water heater to the power surge when the electricity comes back on. We filled the bath tub with water. We stocked up on lots of bottled water, canned food. You must have a weather radio, your important papers ready to go, keep on hand health & beauty aides, tampons,wet wipes, cans of soda, flashlights & batteries, decks of cards, games for th kids , favorite blankets, stuffed toys, and emergency call numbers. Although cell phone service was out here afterwards. Be prepared for the grocery stores not to have much on the shelves for a while!

Carol said...

Congrats Jo...anyone who can Bake bread from scratch can handle an errant rooster easy-peasy! Jo I still remember how to make butter...(in the 50/60's) As kids we hated all that mixing the cream, but now I'm happy to have learnt how too!
Wonderful post Cassondra...I love a resourceful person!
I have to admit to being majorly annoyed when some women try to undermine other women and treat them as idiots! You were terrific the way you handled that
petty bureaucratic old bag!
Knowing how to do lots of practical tasks helps us to have so much more self-confidence.

Cheers Carol.
(umm pretending not to know how to mow grass is a useful technique thou!)

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

The biggest thing I encountered was flooding. Where I lived at the time (on Elk River) I could look off the back porch right down in the river. The front of the building was on the road but the back was on stilts over a "bottom", the Elk came over two banks and filled the bottom.
As I was growing up we always had a back stock of canned goods etc. Now, not so much, not that I don't know how but the economy got me when I wasn't looking and what used to be keep back and save had to be used and I have never been able to replace it. I think there is going to be a lot of that in the future.
I would like to be able to have a generator, just one big enough to run a couple of lights and maybe a small appliance or two.

Treethyme said...

I think I've met your Q-tip lady, only I lost the battle. We got an electric bill that was considerably larger than usual a year ago September -- a bill for electric usage in August. Only, no one had been here in August. My daughter lives in Florida. My son was traveling in China. We were gone for all but five days of the month.

They said it was our air conditioning unit. Except that it died before we left, and the company we ordered the new one from was so busy we arranged for them to replace it when we came back. In September.

I went outside and took a picture of the meter to show it didn't match the bill. I sent copies of all my recent bills, and looked up what our bills had been for previous Augusts. Didn't help.

They never admitted they'd made a mistake, never credited us a penny. I'd love to change electric companies, but they have us over a barrel. It's their arrogance, their complacency that ticks me off. And yet, these utility companies and phone companies and cable companies get away with it.

We lost power for an hour last night -- nothing, compared to some areas. We keep our trusty Coleman lanterns with their fluorescent bulbs at the ready, and during storms we each keep one with us. They last about 10 hours, which would get us through the night but not a lot more.

No wood stove, although we have a fireplace. No generator.

So, not too self-sufficient at our house.

Terry Odell said...

First: for the record, I've used the Q-tip image in one of my books. I actually got it from my daughter, who went to college in St. Petersburg where the population was either college student or retiree. Things come in 3s, I think, because I just read it again in a Lee Child book.

I grew up in earthquake country, and lived many years in a home where brush fires were a threat. Each room had a list of "what to grab" taped inside a closet.

Now I live in hurricane country. I much prefer the earthquake zone. Here, they'll track storms for days, even weeks. And whether or not the storm will hit, or hit anywhere near the predicted path is totally in the air. And it's a lot of work preparing for what might never come. We had 4 major hurricanes pass through a few years ago, and people woke up to the reality of the power of Mother Nature.

We keep our 'hurricane box' in the garage with the recommended supplies. We have important papers in a single tub, also easy to grab. But hurricane evacuation is a slow process, with time to prepare.

No electricity? In Florida? In the summer. We were lucky and only lost power for a day when those 4 storms blew through. I know people who lived without it for several weeks.

Give me air conditioning.

Susan Sey said...

Oh, Cassondra, no fair making me feel like a helpless girl so early in the morning!

I can turn off the water to my house, check my own oil & (with some remedial instruction because I always forget the details) operate a chain saw. But other than that? Nope. You're looking at Q-tip's dream customer right here. We live in the city--no need for chains or even snow tires. We have no well. We hire stuff done on the house, stuff we used to at least try ourselves before we had the little ones. We're rapidly becoming helpless.

But you have reminded me I wanted to call the water utility. They're showing we used TWICE AS MUCH WATER as the same period last month, & unless my toilet has suddenly turned into Niagra falls, such a thing isn't right. I'm going to have to deal with that.

Louisa Cornell said...

Way to go, Jo Mama! I know the GR will have a ball with the grandkids! Just make sure he doesn't corrupt them!

Terrific post, Cassondra. Love the Q-tip and I am so glad you bested her! The Q-tips of the world are the little seeds of doubt insanity sows. If we don't nip them in the bud we're all going to end up sitting in a corner of some asylum drooling on ourselves. I HATE bureaucrats. Can you tell?

My parents came from large families with little money. My Dad's folks were PA coal miners and my Mom's family were AL sharecroppers. Needless to say there is STILL an entire basement of shelves at our family home with canned goods, water and every kind of supply known to man. Don't forget Nana's purse. Nana's basement is the purse on steroids! AND she has TWO freezers full of vegetables and deer meat.


I live in a trailer in the middle of tornado country. LOL BUT, I am prepared for power outages and other disasters. I have been a widow for 15 years so I have had to learn to take care of a lot of things myself.

I have a fireplace and five acres so firewood is not a problem. And, yes I know how to handle a chain saw. I have two! I can change out a breaker in the house or on the power pole. I know how to turn off my water and I have laid every inch of pipe from my water meter to the house.

I have an emergency kit in my car and in my house. I have carriers for all of my dogs and cats, which is saying something! I have no idea how I would get them all in my little Hyundai, but as my brothers have trucks and KNOW I would never leave without my babies I think they would come to get me. If I can't take them with me, I won't be leaving.

Here we only have to worry about tornadoes and the occasional hurricane that gets up this way. I did have a fire on my property a while back. It had been really dry and I woke up from a nap on a Sunday afternoon to find the edge of my yard and the area between it and my pasture on fire. Called the fire department and got out there with a hose to wet down my barn and the area around my dog runs. The fire department got the rest.

Now snow and ice is a real disaster here! In 1993 we had a horrible snow storm. I couldn't get my car out of the driveway and I had NO FOOD in the house. (A rare occurrence!) I saddled up my horse, Taz, and road the 8 miles to the store, bought my groceries and road back. Taz passed away a few years ago. I may need to get another horse!

Buffie said...

I have lived most of my life in the South. I have gone through a hurricane in Florida when I was a child. In Georgia, I have experienced tornados and even a couple ice storms. The preparation for these three disasters are about the same -- have food, water, and batteries available. Shoot, during the hurricane I can remember being in my parents' walk-in closet and playing a board game (probably Sorry) by flashlight. I thought it was cool. The last ice storm we had here in Georgia was a few years ago. We lost electricity, but had the fireplace going. I pinned up sheets to block off the hallway and our office from the living room so that the fire could warm the living room. We all sleep in sleeping bags with blankets and the kids roasted marshmallows. They had a ball.

Buffie said...

If you ladies have time, stop by www.romancenovel.tv today . . . my interview with Andrei Claude is up!

Buffie said...

let's try that link again

http://www.romancenovel.tv

Buffie said...

Well that didn't do it either. Not sure what I'm doing wrong, but you know where to go! LOL!

Cassondra said...

Donna said:

I have candles galore for lighting and decks of cards (and books) for entertainment. Hey - we're prepared for whatever.

Ha! Your emergency kit could even be construed as romantic! I can light the house of course and have no worries about what to do with my time. It's the heating the house and keeping pipes from freezing that concerns me most. And of course, if the water supply became contaminated (which it does every now and then and we get a boiled water advisory) I'd need to have supplemental water--and I don't. Lame I am.

My folks didn't hoard up for a nuclear attack. I think they just did it because...well..stuff happens ya know? Although, I guess the basement would be better than nothing in the aftermath of a nuclear disaster. Ugh. Don't much like to think about that.

Cassondra said...

Jane said:

The only thing we're prepared for is the food and water. We have a pantry stocked full of canned goods and bottled water.

Hey, Jane at least you're ahead of the game! You've got your pantry going.

One thing I found out in this ice storm with the recent power outages, is that I need a coffee can stashed with a bit of cash. ATMs don't work when there's no power, and if there's no phone service, you can't use credit cards. I found this out the hard way. I had a couple of bills in my purse from a recent trip, and that's what got us through--if we wanted to buy coffee or gas, it was cash only at most places!

Cassondra said...

Helen said:

this is the closest they have ever been to my home we had burnt leaves covering the yard and we did all that we had to and made sure the gutters were cleared because of flying embers bought an extra hose so as there was one in the front and back yards in case we needed to hose the roof down and kept checking the outside.

OMGOSH, Helen! I didn't realize you were so close to the fires! Thank goodness you guys are okay. I'm glad to know that Sam is okay too. It sounds like you're fairly well prepared at your house. Brush fires are a frightening thing to me. We don't have them here as a rule, and I think folks around here are not educated as to what to do even during drought. In recent years we've been very dry in the summers, and there are always roadside fires from cigarettes getting tossed out of vehicles. People just don't think about it. Or maybe they just aren't willing to change their behaviors because of the danger. No WAY would this area be prepared for something like you guys are facing!

Cassondra said...

Okay you guys....

I have to go into town to la universidad and take a spanish test. Yes, that's right, a spanish test.

I'm taking spanish because I have a hero who is half hispanic and I need to learn. Can you believe I'm putting myself through this for a character?

Grab a beer from the bar (it's a wee bit early for anything harder, don't you think?)and pull up a table. I wanna hear your emergency plans and what you've lived through. I'll be back just after noon. Wish me luck. I've studied, but I'm taking cold medicine so I'll need all the luck I can get.

terrio said...

My friends and I used to call them Q-tips way back when I lived in Pittsburgh. I haven't heard them called that since. LOL!

I'm like you, I don't like to have to depend on other people. Hate it, actually. But I didn't have the raisin' you did, so I don't always have a choice.

Around 2000 or so, we had a bad ice storm in AR. There were about five households on the farm, but only one had propane for the stove and some built in heaters, so we all huddled together in my ex-inlaws house. For several days. With two very young children. Not my idea of a picnic.

I've survived blizzards, ice storms, and come close to the occasional tornado. The way I see it, no matter where I live, there's the chance of something nature-wise, so I never worry about when I'm deciding where to live.

About the customer service thing, drives me butt-sh*t. I worked customer service for years, so I'm a stickler for good service. I've been known to make my dissatisfaction very clear.

I think the problem today is that we've been programmed, through all this PC crap, not to argue. Just nod and agree and don't make a scene. Bull. If I'm right, I'm going to keep fighting until I prove it. If there's a scene, so be it.

p226 said...

We had our power knocked out last night for a few hours. Big deal, right? But we have candles for light, and blankets for warmth. Not to mention tons of heavy clothes.

I've spent enough time in the field to realize that, well, you just won't DIE without heat. Now, if you get *wet* and can't get dry when it's cold, that's a very serious situation. You'd better be building a fire and getting your clothes dried. But all you really require, even in very cold temps, is food, water, dry clothing (maybe lots of it) and shelter from wind, snow, and rain.

A house without power might not be comfortable. But you can live in it. You might have to build a fire outside to cook. But you can do it. And if it's that cold, you don't have to worry about food spoiling.

I'm not going to stay in my house forever. And the one thing my house does not have that my new house (whenever and wherever that is) will is a fireplace. Fire can make very crappy conditions a whole lot less crappy.

I think though, that my wife may disagree with my acceptable thresholds of comfort. I can live very rough. I can actually be quite happy living very rough. I don't know how she feels about that bottom end of the spectrum.

But I can tell you this. Last night, snuggled under blankets in the candlelight on the couch, she didn't seem unhappy. Not unhappy at all.

p226 said...

Oh.

I wanted to comment on the q-tip as well. Forgot to do so a second ago.

This problem is becoming a nation-wide problem. The concept is called "impersonal communications." Increasingly, we stop communicating with each other as human beings -- as people with individual thoughts and experiences. More and more, we communicate to a person's role. If you doubt me, take a seat at a fast food restaurant near the counter, and observe how people communicate to the person taking the order.

That is not a human being they are talking to. That is an automaton. One with limited software, firmware, and programming. It (the automaton) is incapable of understanding much of anything beyond "the number three combo."

It works in reverse, too. The q-tip was not communicating with Cassondra the person, but "the customer at 100 main street." A number. A number that dared step outside its role. Because she was not communicating with you. She was communicating with your role. And people get very comfortable communicating with roles. Communicating with roles has much simpler rules. It's easy. Communicating with a person is complex, and requires thought and intellectual and emotional investment.

And who has time for that?

Virginia said...

Congrats Jo on getting the rooster!

Loved the post Cassondra and I here you! I also live in KY and just went through the same thing as you and I also have ran into a few of those Q-Tip ladies. I was without power for several hours last night again. I guess the high winds from yesterday knock it out again. Yep didn't have a computer again. I was also raised in the country but I was not prepared for the ice storm that hit us, we didn't have any back-up heat or a radio, but things will be different from now on. Now we had food in the house but no way to heat it, but I also had food that didn't need heating. I did have candles and flash lights. I will have the things I need next time. It is just that we had never had this bad of a storm to where the power was off for any lenth of time.

As far as a Q-Tip lady goes a couple of years ago a near by town took over our water system and our water is high anyways, but the first bill I got from them was over 400 dollars. I was on the phone right away telling them it was wrong. I kept telling them they where reading the wrong meter. They were reading my meter one month and the meter next door the next. It took several months to get this straightened out. Believe me I was fit to be tied, man I was mad! It was a simple problem just read the right meter each month, Duh!!!

Cassondra said...

Okay I'm back. I don't know how I did on the test, but I don't think I bombed it completely.

Laurie said:

You must have a weather radio, your important papers ready to go, keep on hand health & beauty aides, tampons,wet wipes, cans of soda, flashlights & batteries, decks of cards, games for th kids , favorite blankets, stuffed toys, and emergency call numbers. Although cell phone service was out here afterwards. Be prepared for the grocery stores not to have much on the shelves for a while!


Wow, Laurie, you have been through more disasters than several of us combined! I think moving to a hurricane area would be a bit scary. I was fortunate, recently, to spend a weekend with a couple who have a condo in Florida on the beach. She said, "If there's a puff of wind, we're out of here." They drive inland to their home in Georgia. They just grab their overnight bags and go, because they're set up at both places. But to have your primary residence in a place where, even semi-regularly, storms of this force go through, takes a bit of spunk IMO.
Sounds like you're prepared though. People who grew up in those areas think nothing of it--just like Donna and me with the tornadoes. When there's a warning and they say it's coming right at we notice, but otherwise, we pretty much ignore it and gon on.

Cassondra said...

Carol said:

Knowing how to do lots of practical tasks helps us to have so much more self-confidence.....

(umm pretending not to know how to mow grass is a useful technique though!)


ROFLOL! I agree, Carol. Pretending to not know how to mow would be useful. Unfortunately I've already shown my dh that I can mow, and I'm the primary lawn mower in our house. He does trim with the push mower, although you're starting to make me wonder about his "I never used a riding mower before" statements. Do you suppose he could be making use of your technique?

It does aggravate you, doesn't it? The thing is, I doubt this lady realized she was coming across this way. I think it was just her way of being. Around here, the rural co-ops have grown by leaps and bounds over the past twenty years. A few folks are entrenched there and are still around from when it was a one and two-person office. They've just been sort of grandfathered in I guess, and their customer service skills aren't necessarily the best. One of the Banditas just said, on our loop, that most people who work for the utilities really are nice folks. And I agree. They are, absolutely. And the linemen are absolutely heroes. (There may be some linewomen out there, and if there are, they're absolutely heroines. Come to think of it, I haven't seen any line WOMEN around here. Hmmm. I wonder if there are any.)

I think the office folks have gotten a bit jaded, dealing with people who either don't want to pay their bills, or (and I know there are a number of these) who think the electricity just comes on when you flip the switch on the wall and those people never think beyond that. There are fewer and fewer rural-roots people around, who really pay attention to what's going on. I'm sure when you deal with the "flip the switch" types, one after another, you tend to put everyone in the same box. It just doesn't feel good when you're not one and you're shoved into the box, ya know?

Cassondra said...

aka Dianna said:

I would like to be able to have a generator, just one big enough to run a couple of lights and maybe a small appliance or two.

Me too! When the ice storm hit here, you couldn't buy a generator within 200 miles of the edge of the storm. Poof. Gone. At $1000 each!

That's why we don't have one--the cost. It takes a really big generator to run an hvac fan. We do heat with propane, so that's still available even when the power goes out, but the fan doesn't run, so no heat.

I think the minimum you can live with is a) a source of steady, safe heat--enough to keep the plumbing from freezing in the house, b)food that doesn't take a lot of prep c)clean, drinkable water. With those you can pretty much make it with candles and generic emergency supplies. It's getting the heat, the food and the water systems in place for an emergency--that's the kicker.

Cassondra said...

Treethyme said:

They never admitted they'd made a mistake, never credited us a penny. I'd love to change electric companies, but they have us over a barrel. It's their arrogance, their complacency that ticks me off. And yet, these utility companies and phone companies and cable companies get away with it

Now, I've never run up against anything like this with my rural co-op, although I did have a similar problem with the city electric utility when I lived on the other side of town. If I have proof that their bill is wrong, they've always been willing to change it. Honestly this just doesn't make sense Treethyme. I don't know how they can stonewall you like that if you have the pics. That's aggravating. And you're right. They do have a monopoly. I know they DO try to give good service, because one of my friends was the CFO for the city utility. But I'm sure sometimes people fall through the cracks the way you have.

But that's a little unusual--at least for around here.

Cassondra said...

Terry Odell said,

I grew up in earthquake country, and lived many years in a home where brush fires were a threat. Each room had a list of "what to grab" taped inside a closet.

Oh, now THAT's interesting. See, this is probably old hat to you California folks, who are used to the ground shaking. But that's the first time I've heard of the list in each closet.

Love the important papers in the one tub, etc.

Interesting that you've lived with hurricanes and quakes and prefer the quakes. Gosh. I wouldn't know how to handle either.

Florida in the summer. I'm with you. Give me air conditioning!

Cassondra said...

Susan Sey said:

We hire stuff done on the house, stuff we used to at least try ourselves before we had the little ones. We're rapidly becoming helpless.

Doesn't this just gall you? I was outside the other day, looking at our mess of a yard, thinking, "I wonder how much somebody would charge me to rake this yard?"

HOW LAME IS THAT? OMG, I'm getting old and lazy. Yes, it's a fairly large yard, but still....PAY SOMEBODY to pick up the sticks and clean up the yard? When I had that thought, I realized I'd inched a little closer to helpless.

Good luck with the water company. They're gonna say it's your toilet. Betcha.

Helen said...

Cassondra

We live in NSW not Victoria the fires that were that close to our home were a about 9 years ago.

When we first moved into our house 30 years ago we had no elecricity for 4 days and it was winter the electic company hadn't finished the meter boxes so I got an old kerosene heater from my Nana had lots of candles and we could cook toast and warm cans of food on the kero heater I think back on that time and there was only the 2 of us no kids then and it was very romantic we often talk about it.

Have Fun
Helen

Cassondra said...

Louisa, I knew you'd have a good disaster story or two! And ah the jokes about trailers in tornado country. I'm part of a search & rescue team and we have a whole slew of those jokes. Of course, half of the team lives in trailers too!

It sounds like you're actually really well prepared. It's hard, isn't it, coming from an "ultra-prepared" background and living in a world where you're not able to get to that "ultra-prepared" point? It's hard for me, anyhow.

I saddled up my horse, Taz, and road the 8 miles to the store, bought my groceries and road back. Taz passed away a few years ago. I may need to get another horse!

Now THAT's what I call prepared!

Cassondra said...

Buffie said:

We lost electricity, but had the fireplace going. I pinned up sheets to block off the hallway and our office from the living room so that the fire could warm the living room. We all sleep in sleeping bags with blankets and the kids roasted marshmallows. They had a ball.

See, Buffie, THIS is the way to live in a disaster. The fireplace is key, isn't it? If you've got heat, you're good to go in most cases.

I bet your kids look back on it as a grand adventure.

Cassondra said...

Buffie said:

let's try that link again

http://www.romancenovel.tv



Buffie, I don't know how to hot link in the comments either. (Where IS Posh T. Bandita when you need her? We can all cut and paste though.

catslady said...

Perfect timing for this blog. I just got my internet back up. We had a wind storm in our area last night (as high as 92 mph winds oh my). I was one of the lucky ones not to lose electricity. But we don't have TV which doesn't bother me until later in the evening such as the first Survivor is on tonight! I figured the same thing happened to my broadband connection. After calling the phone company just to find out how long it would be - I got disconnected from the the first idiot and had to call again (you know all the hitting of numbers that goes on forever until you get a person), this one had an accent, I'm talking to someone 1,000 miles away who has no idea of anything. THERE IS NO NUMBER THEY WILL GIVE YOU FOR THE LOCAL OFFICE. I'm told it won't be looked at until the next day (gasp). Somehow I had some good luck and the phone guy called and then actually came today and was able to give me a new modem. He thinks maybe a surge got it or something. I hate utilities too but at least this guy saved the day. Usually the people that actually do the physical work are the nice ones. There is just something about being on the other end of a phone that makes some people rude. I cannot believe that lady was so rude to you in person - good for you in setting her straight!!!

Cassondra said...

Terrio said:

I've survived blizzards, ice storms, and come close to the occasional tornado. The way I see it, no matter where I live, there's the chance of something nature-wise, so I never worry about when I'm deciding where to live.

True. No way to escape it. There's always something that'll get you. Maybe that's a good thing. If there were one place that had no dangers, everyone would be piled on that one spot!;0)

Yeah, I've worked a lot of customer service too. That's probably why I get so aggravated at the trend I see--to treat customers as though they're clueless. Some are. But others are not.

Cassondra said...

P226 said:

I think though, that my wife may disagree with my acceptable thresholds of comfort. I can live very rough. I can actually be quite happy living very rough. I don't know how she feels about that bottom end of the spectrum.

Yeah. I need to be able to get warm. And if I'm cold, no amount of clothing will (usually) warm me up. I've been on searches where no amount of high tech gear or clothing would warm us up. It was effin' FREEZING. Steve, on the other hand, is fine out there. Men generate more heat I guess. I keep coming back to a memory of our "honeymoon"--it was five years into our marriage--camped on the Snake River in Wyoming in the middle of June. It got down to 15 degrees that night. Steve was half out from under the covers. I was miserable. It is, to this day, my most miserable night ever. I could not get warm. It was awful.

I don't mind doing without comforts in an emergency. Actually I don't even whine about that. I don't generally whine about emergencies--as long as I'm prepared. But I hate being cold. I'd rather be too hot than too cold.

The Florida heat that Terry was talking about? I could actually survive that. I grew up with no air conditioning and when I hear people saying, "OMG I'm going to die if I don't get some AC," I just shake my head. Florida in the summer is rough, granted, but I could take that.

Being cold? There are not enough ways to say I HATE BEING COLD. I can't sleep, can't relax, and I shiver violently. Hate. It.

Nancy said...

Jo, you snagged the rooster! I hope he'll behave himself with the kiddies.

Cassondra, I second Jo's love of the Q-tip description.

We get thunderstorms and high winds more than any other type of natural disaster. There's some flooding but not in my part of the city.

I know how to shut off the water but, unless throwing every breaker in the box works, not the power.

We occasionally get tornadoes (we have a basement; having been tornado-phobic, with very little reason, my entire life, I find this reassuring), though not like some parts of the country do.

A friend of mine went to grad school in Norman, OK. Also known as Tornado Capital of the US. Where did he live? An upstairs apt. In a building with no basement.

Not me.

We lived in our house without electricity for more than two weeks after Hurricane Hugo came ashore at Charleston and cut a path north through the Carolinas. Supposedly, hurricanes weaken over land. This one, not so much. The phone came back before the power.

It was September, and we had a wood stove and a grill, though finding charcoal was, shall we say, a challenge due to the widespread power outages in the city. The dh took cold baths. I was on sponge baths anyway (eeew, I know, I know) because I was in a full-body cast due to back surgery. We could heat enough water on the stove for hair-washing.

Nancy said...

During the Cuban Missile Crisis (while we were practicing ducking under our school desks as shelter from a nuclear detonation--yeah, right!), my dad started a fallout shelter in our basement. Out of cinder blocks. He got as far as bricking in the window there and raising the walls to about 4 ft. And stocking up on canned goods.

Fast-forward 37 years. My parents moved out of the house. The canned goods were still there, though they looked more like canned botulism, and bags of concrete mix were still in the shelter, and we found the plans, which Daddy had drawn on the back of their Christmas letter.

Even if you're preparing, the foodstuffs need to stay current.

Cassondra said...

P226 said:

she was not communicating with you. She was communicating with your role. And people get very comfortable communicating with roles. Communicating with roles has much simpler rules. It's easy. Communicating with a person is complex, and requires thought and intellectual and emotional investment.

YES! This is way better than I could ever have said it. This is it. The tendency to place people in a role is exactly what they do. I see it constantly. And in recent years, that "role" has been dumbed down in the minds of the customer service people. It's a little alarming, actually, if you follow the rabbit all the way into the hole. It goes along with the assumption that we are not individuals, with individual minds, but we are "the masses." "The public." "The customers."

You've nailed it. That's a precise description of every interaction I've had with the customer service end of a utilty in the past eight years, save ONE experience, which was very, very good. And I should say that the ONE very good experience was with this same rural electric co-op.

Nancy said...

Natalie, those kits sound interesting. I'll have to take a look at that book.

In Parable of the Sower, by Octavia Butler, the heroine makes a survival pack because society has been deteriorating, with increasing levels of violence for years (apparently due to an eco-disaster, though that isn't discussed at length). When marauders breach the wall her little neighborhood has erected, almost everyone is killed. She's able to take that pack and run. It's a wonderful book, very thought-provoking if a little grim.

Cassondra said...

FURTHER proof that customer service departments increasingly have the mindset of addressing a "role" and not a person, is the outsourcing of customer service by United States companies, serving United States customers, to countries where English is not the native language.

Those reps have a freakin' script, and no matter what you do or say, you can't get them to deviate from that script. They attempt to shoehorn your particular problem into an established "set" of problems, whether it fits or not, because the established problems fit their script. This is the extreme in the substitution of "role" for customer, but the shoe fits.

Cassondra said...

Virginia, you live in Kentucky? I don't think I knew that! Then again, I've been on heavy doses of cold medication for two weeks, so you may have told me and I've lost it somewhere between the cough suppresant and the nasal decongestant.

Please tell me they DID work with you and straighten out your water bill. Surely they didn't try to say your toilet had run out $400 of water? And GOOD LANDS!!! Who is your neighbor? A business, surely, with that kind of water usage.

Nancy said...

Louisa, we've always said that if we ever had to evacuate, the dog was going where we did, even if we had to sleep in the car as a result. Even when we had two dogs. I just don't understand people who leave their dogs--well, I won't be specific here because it's just too distressing--but in situations in which the dog is endangered instead of even sheltered. I'd feel the same about cats if I had one.

Although when the hurricane came through, the feral cat in our neighborhood somehow survived it. We saw it a few days after the storm and were amazed.

Cassondra said...

catslady said:

Usually the people that actually do the physical work are the nice ones.

Yeah, I've never had a bad experience with a linesman or a phone repair guy. In fact, usually we become friends. Because I carry mail, I see them out all over since they work certain areas. Once they've been to my house we'll start hollering at each other when we see each other. He'll be up there in his bucket truck and I'll be in my little car thirty feet below, sticking mail in a box and we'll chat.

And honestly, I don't hate utilities. Up until recently I've given our co-op straight A grades on their little survey they send out each year. But recently things have changed.

The Q-tip lady was years ago, BTW. We bought this house in 2000.
There is just something about being on the other end of a phone that makes some people rude. I cannot believe that lady was so rude to you in person - good for you in setting her straight!!!

And ya know, She wasn't really rude, though it may seem that way as I've presented it. Nobody from the utilities has been truly rude. She was just...a wall. She was a solid wall of "the paper says this so it must be that way." She was unable to process that I wasn't--just as P226 said so well--that I didn't FIT THE ROLE. I wasn't the same as the last three customers she'd seen. She just couldn't get it. And I wasn't mean back to her. I smiled and spoke gently the entire time. But I wasn't gonna back down. I just wasn't.

Cassondra said...

Oh, and catslady, I got a new modem too--last Tuesday. Same problem. Power surge when the power came back on fried my old modem.

Cassondra said...

Oh, good. Helen, I thought you were fifteen minutes from the fires NOW.

I think back on that time and there was only the 2 of us no kids then and it was very romantic we often talk about it.

I can totally see that--roughing it can be fun when there's just two of you--as long as you have the basics that you need. Heat, food, water. No matter what P226 says, I still put heat on the list.

p226 said...

FURTHER proof that customer service departments increasingly have the mindset of addressing a "role" and not a person, is the outsourcing of customer service by United States companies, serving United States customers, to countries where English is not the native language.

Maddening isn't it? You are not a person. You are a number. Your number has been filed into a role. Act within the bounds of your role please.

To hear this recording in English, press 1.

For help with your account, such as making payments or for an account balance inquiry, please press 2.

To be treated as a human being, please press 56798162411984654657216357.

Cassondra said...

Nancy said:

We lived in our house without electricity for more than two weeks after Hurricane Hugo came ashore at Charleston and cut a path north through the Carolinas.

Wooohooo...that's a long stretch to be without power nowadays. Sounds like you managed just fine. The longest we've been without power since we married was nine days. We did the same thing. Grill. Wood stove. It was all good. No complaints. In fact, I look back on it fondly. It was cold enough that we set the refrigerated food on the screened porch and we didn't even have to do without that. I did move my freezer full of venison to a friend's freezer. That was just too long without power to hold a good freeze, and the temps were not that cold.

Oh, and I was tornado phobic, just like you, for the first half of my life. I took a weather spotter class as part of my SAR training, and ended up having to wait out storms up on the highest point I could get to--to watch for tornadic vortices and radio them in to the local weather guru. I got over the fear once I learned to actually recognize them when they're forming. There are so few here. Lots of scares, few actual touch-down events.

Cassondra said...

Nancy said:

Even if you're preparing, the foodstuffs need to stay current.

This is one of the key things, I think. I don't actually have a separate emergency pantry. I just buy extra of what I normally use when it's on sale and try to rotate it. Sometimes I fail and I'll find a little stash in the back corner of the pantry from, oh, three years ago.

It's funny, isn't it, thinking about our drills and "preparedness" efforts of past years. Still, even though the school desk was not going to save us from the bomb, I think overall the "be prepared" mindset was--and is--a positive. Not taking for granted that the flip of a switch will bring us all we need to live is, I think, a good thing.

Cassondra said...

Nancy said:

She's able to take that pack and run. It's a wonderful book, very thought-provoking if a little grim.

This is an interesting extension topic, Nancy. I have a search pack that I normally carry in my vehicle--which is supposed to include the stuff to keep me, my dog, and a victim (one I find in the field when searching) alive for 24 hours. It's called just that. A 24 hour pack. Recently I've let that slide too. Hmmm. I'm starting to peg the lame-o-meter into the red at this point. Sheesh.

Because I frequent a lot of weapons forums and am friends with a lot of weapons enthusiasts and former soldiers, SAR people, medics, firefighters, police, yadda yadda yadda, I tend to end up in a lot of discussions about just this thing. On some forums they call it the Bug-out Bag, or BOB. Here in the lair BOB stands for something ENTIRELY different,a nd for Joanie, it's Bring your Own Barbarian. But I digress.

Anyhow, some of these people have spent a LOT of time thinking, planning, trying out stuff on hiking and backpacking trips, and considering what they would/would not carry. There's a lot of really good information out there about this stuff. I think some of it is overkill for me, but that's okay. It's a take what works for you, leave the rest kind of thing anyhow.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Cassondra, love the post, but not the weather or the attitude of the Q-tips!

We've learned to adapt to the bad weather of each area we've lived in. In Ohio it was tornadoes in the spring, summer and occasionally the fall. In late fall and winger it was icy roads and blizzards.

In Florida we became experts on tropical storms, hurricaines and tornadoes.

In Texas, it's unbearable heat over 100 for weeks on end, sandstorms, tornadoes and the occasional ice storm.

Cassondra said...

Nancy said:

Louisa, we've always said that if we ever had to evacuate, the dog was going where we did, even if we had to sleep in the car as a result.

Oh yeah, this is a given for us. It's one of the big reasons I'm so, "must become more prepared for no power" here at home now. It's difficult to move three big dogs, two cats, and a crow, plus all the necessary provisions to keep them alive for an indefinite period. It's easier to bring the house up to "can stay here" standards than it is for us to go somewhere else. That said, if we HAD to absolutely evacuate, I do have enough crates that we could squeeze everybody in, and a minivan to carry them all. Well there it is. FINALLY. A reason (one I cannot weasel my way out of)to keep the minivan in the family.

Cassondra said...

Suz said:

In Ohio it was tornadoes in the spring, summer and occasionally the fall. In late fall and winger it was icy roads and blizzards.

In Florida we became experts on tropical storms, hurricaines and tornadoes.

In Texas, it's unbearable heat over 100 for weeks on end, sandstorms, tornadoes and the occasional ice storm.


Good grief, SUZ! What do you do for all of those? BTW,I don't see earthquakes on that list.

Cassondra said...

P226 said:

Maddening isn't it?

Yes. *heavy sigh* It is.

And the thing that bothers me most is that the public utilities seem to be moving slowly--but moving nonetheless--more and more in that direction. And we're accepting being addressed as roles rather than people. I don't suppose there's any going back.

Other businesses went that way a long time ago of course. But with a non-utility-type business, we can always go somewhere else, to another provider, and the one who does the best job of listening will win. Can't do that when it's the sole provider of a service you need or want. :0/ At least, not without the considerable investment it would take to provide that service for yourself.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Well there was an earthquake when I lived in Ohio. It was over before anyone actually realized what it was. The epicenter was supposed to be Lexington.

We have lots of candles in the house for when power goes out. With kids, they can play board games in candle light and snuggle on the couch under loads of quilts and afghans my mother/grandmother made us. Power has rarely been out more than a night in any of those instances.

Suzanne Welsh said...

As for the blizzard of 78....I was in Nursing School and it was the first time I realized just what a committment nursing would be.

The night nurses couldn't leave because few nurses could get in to relieve them. So the nursing students who lived in the dorms attached to the hospital all reported for duty and we did most of the care for the patients, supervized by minimal staffing. Then the night nurses worked nights while we slept. This went on for nearly 72 hours. After our shifts ended, we'd gather in the kitchen raid what food stores there were and have a party!

Cassondra said...

I found out something really interesting a few days ago.

I interviewed for a part time job at a fulfillment center for a major shopping network. I'd be a customer service rep there. I like customer service because I like people and I like solving problems for them in ways that work for them and for the company. During the interview I learned that this shopping network is in the process of moving its ENTIRE customer service department (a huge call center) from Wisconsin or Minnesota (can't remember which) to here--Southern Kentucky.

I assumed that this was for the obvious reason. Cost of living and wages are lower here, therefore they are tightening their belts and saving money by moving to a lower wage area. But someone in customer service at another corporation told me last week that LOTS of companies are doing this or considering doing it, not just because of money, but because studies have shown that customers automatically trust and build a better relationship with a person over the phone if that person has a southern accent.

Who'da thunk it?

That accent the whole world has made fun of for decades has now become a sought-after customer service component.

Ha! (raises hanky-filled fist) We are vindicated.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hurricaines:
Extra water, canned foods, propane for the grill and lots of flashlights and candles.

Oh, wait, that's the same stuff we'd use for blizzards!

Cassondra said...

Suz said:

Oh, wait, that's the same stuff we'd use for blizzards!

Yeah, but for hurricanes, you have to do stuff to your house and yard and stuff. Don't you?

Kate Carlisle said...

Cassondra, fabulous and fascinating post! I'm always amazed at all the cool stuff you know. :-)

I'm another California girl, so it's earthquakes, fires and mudslides for me. But you might be interested to hear that we now have another natural disaster to worry about in my area. Last year, the city sent out maps and warning signs and advice about what to do in case of ... tsunami!!

Yeah, we were real excited about that. We're five blocks from the beach and according to the map, we're definitely in the path if a big tsunami hits. However, there's a steep hill one block over that "might" shield us, if we're lucky.

Unbelievable. If it's not one thing, it's another...


Go, Jo!! Have fun with the Golden Bird!

Keira Soleore said...

Cassondra wrote, "I sat in the chair and pulled it closer to the front of her desk and set my purse down. I propped my elbow on the desk."

I cheered vocally and loudly when I got to this part, because in my mind's eye, I was seeing Cassondra in one of her drop-dead-gorgeous black power suits, those raised eyebrows, and that direct stare. And I was smiling big time. I knew the good parts of Cassondra's stories were coming up. Let me tell y'all, Cassondra tells the best stories in the dead of the night after lights are out.

Keira Soleore said...

I'm extremely high maintenance.

Keira Soleore said...

Nancy wrote, "During the Cuban Missile Crisis (while we were practicing ducking under our school desks as shelter from a nuclear detonation--yeah, right!),"

Bwahahaha. It's so completely anachronistic now that you think about it, isn't it? But that's how you stayed safe during WWII. Should work 30-odd years later. :)

Cassondra said...

Suz said:

As for the blizzard of 78....I was in Nursing School and it was the first time I realized just what a committment nursing would be.

Suz, I remember this blizzard. Down her in Kentucky, we had ice, then about ten inches of snow, then more ICE on top of the snow. The wind chill was 70 below. I could walk, literally, on top of the snow without breaking through.

That's a great story about the nurses in the dorm. And what a cool experience--I bet you got to do stuff you normally wouldn't have been able to do. And I bet it made you a better nurse.

Cassondra said...

Kate said:

Last year, the city sent out maps and warning signs and advice about what to do in case of ... tsunami!!

So, Kate, inquiring minds want to know. What do you DO if a tsunami is coming? And how much advance warning do you have? And is your earthquake kit all stocked up, missy?

Make CERTAIN you grab your laptop and your backlist. At some point, Homicide in Hardcover and the other Bibliophile mysteries will be worth a FORTUNE as a first edition ya know. You don't wanna lose those in a tsunami.

Cassondra said...

Keira said:

Let me tell y'all, Cassondra tells the best stories in the dead of the night after lights are out.

OMGosh. What did I SAY when I was too exhausted to think and--oh yes-- on the second glass of wine-- in San Fran? I don't remember telling any stories that good. Keira, we'll talk. You must have me mixed up with someone else. Some other Bandita perhaps? Mayhap even a tall, fair-haired Duchesse from across the hall?????? Why I don't even HAVE any stories that good.

Cassondra said...

Keira said:

I'm extremely high maintenance

Really? I didn't notice you being particularly high maintenance. I thought you held up rather well after having your room turned into the San Francisco branch of the lair.

BUT... that native costume you wore to the ball...

Let me tell y'all, when Keira gets all glammed up, she is GAWGEOUS.

Yes, yes I can see that if she chose to let it show, Keira could be high maintenance. Keira, it was the gorgeous silks, complete with the jewel on the forehead. I wouldn't have believed your statement about being high maintenance if I hadn't seen you in that outfit. THat gave you away.

Cassondra said...

Buffie, WOW, what a great interview!

Everybody, Buffie has interviewed Mr. Romance over on Romance Novel TV and well...I'm sweating.

Let's just say we could skip over part of the application process if he wanted to join our group of cabana boys. Ahem....

Karin said...

I like to think I'm prepared for whatever disaster could strike where I live, but I'm pretty complacent. The worst thing that's ever happened was the blizzard of 2006 that shut down most of the city for three days just before Christmas. The power didn't go out, the water was still running, and we had plenty of food at my house.

Cassondra said...

Karin said:

I like to think I'm prepared for whatever disaster could strike where I live, but I'm pretty complacent.

Aren't we all, Karin, aren't we all! Well, I know a few people who aren't, but when it's not happening RIGHT NOW, it's easy to put it on the back burner, isn't it?

Keira Soleore said...

Cassondra wrote, "I wouldn't have believed your statement about being high maintenance if I hadn't seen you in that outfit. THat gave you away."

Darn. It's always the clothes. They display a lot more that they're supposed to. Modesty clearly went begging.

Mayhap even a tall, fair-haired Duchesse from across the hall?

Er, I was in my own room, thank you very much. At no point did I find myself in anyone else's room or anyone else's bed (in case you were wondering).

And gosh, the yarns you can spin!!! (Ha!)

Joan said...

Pass the cotton swab.

I also live in KY. Went 5 days in Sept without power due to Ike, 5 more two weeks ago with the windstorm. I have one flashlight, 1 candle and a really old battery operated radio.

By day two of the ice storm I was wrapped up in layers (alone) blankets and scarves on my couch tearing up. I looked like a demented bag lady!

I like to call it "selective exertion" instead of helplessness. But yeah, I was miserable. I was SO miserable I went to sleep at WORK!!!

I know where my shut offs are but since I couldn't get the valve to turn, I ran water out of my facets for 5 days to keep the pipes from bursting.

Can't wait to see my next water bill :-)

And I have nothing but praise for the utility linemen etc. who worked in horrible conditions to bring us back up to power. The convoys of utility trucks looked like the Allies coming to free us!

Christine Wells said...

Hi C! I hate being treated like a moron, no matter where I am so I commiserate with you on your experience!

We're not really equipped to deal with natural disaster here. We don't tend to suffer from much other than violent storms, drought and the very occasional flood where I live (like, 1974 was about the last major flood, before I was born).

Obviously I need to be more prepared! Whenever I'm in serious trouble, a kind of icy calm descends and I become someone even my family doesn't recognize--ruthlessly efficient and determined. But to be honest I haven't had to deal with anything like that very often and I'm not keen to be tested, either! I so admire your capabilities.

Pat Cochran said...

One word: hurricane. Second word:
Ike!

We prepared as much as we were able, in a hurricane you do have some time to make preparations.
A magic wand would have been good! After a night I hope never to repeat (BTW, the tornado that happened by did not sound like a train!) we found we had lost our electicity. Thank goodness for a
gas stove, we were able to cook
most of the foods in the freezer.
The most popular entertainment
in Houston during those many days
was block parties. People would
fire up the BBQ and everyone
brought foods & all enjoyed the
gathering. We were without power
for 13 days and some folks down
in Galveston still are not back in their homes!

Pat Cochran

Denise Rossetti said...

I'm a luxury of civilization. I'd be hopeless. I don't know how to do anything, or if I do know, I don't have the physical strength. Cassondra, you and the others fill me with admiration. Wow!

Still, I know where the candles and the matches are. That's about it.

But Christine's right - Mother Nature is pretty good to us here. The worst are the flash floods. Like the one I got married in. Loooong story...

BTW - if you want to see the film of that firefighter with the koala, here's the link. It's really worth watching. I even blogged about it and about another koala with heat stress. Amazing pictures.

Treethyme said...

Cassondra - I think I probably could have beaten the utility company if I'd had time to do battle. Unfortunately, we were back and forth between here and Chicago, helping my parents move into a much smaller house, and I didn't pursue our case as diligently as I normally would have. And I had to pay the bill or risk getting cut off.

As you can tell, it still drives me crazy that they got away with it.

Cassondra said...

Joanie said:

By day two of the ice storm I was wrapped up in layers (alone) blankets and scarves on my couch tearing up. I looked like a demented bag lady!

Oh, poor Joanie! What a picture! Just thinking about it made me scrunch my face up into a sad frown. I'm glad you got to leave and go somewhere else for a while. Did I mention that I hate being cold?

Cassondra said...

Christine said:

Whenever I'm in serious trouble, a kind of icy calm descends and I become someone even my family doesn't recognize--ruthlessly efficient and determined. But to be honest I haven't had to deal with anything like that very often and I'm not keen to be tested, either!


Oh, Christine I bet your family recognizes you. I can't see you being a whiney helpless girl. You're too sensible for that. I hate that about you, do you know that? You're gorgeous AND sensible. Hmmmm. And I'm not anxious for any more disasters either. I've had plenty recently, and I haven't been through nearly what some other folks have.

Cassondra said...

Pat Cochran said:

We were without power
for 13 days and some folks down
in Galveston still are not back in their homes!


Yeah, that hurricane was off the scale, as was Katrina. I think Ike might have been stronger, though I don't remember. I do remember that it didn't stop until it had ravaged half the country--even up here. We normally don't worry about hurricanes. We just get ready for rain. But sheesh! That thing hit freakin' KENTUCKY like a ton of bricks. I cannot imagine staying at home through that. I guess if I lived in hurricane country I'd have arrangements with friends further inland. Crates for my dogs and other animals, and a portable cage for Thor. We'd all just pack up and leave.

It does sound like y'all made the best of a very bad situation. AND got to know your neighbors better too!

Cassondra said...

Treethyme said:

we were back and forth between here and Chicago, helping my parents move into a much smaller house, and I didn't pursue our case as diligently as I normally would have.

It takes a lot of time AND a lot of energy to deal with these kinds of things. Energy I'd much rather put into something else. And it would eat at me too, so I don't blame you for being aggravated still.

Cassondra said...

Hi Denise!

BTW - if you want to see the film of that firefighter with the koala, here's the link. It's really worth watching. I even blogged about it and about another koala with heat stress. Amazing pictures.

Hey, thanks for the link. And I read your blog about the little koala. OMGOSH he was SO cute! They must be truly desperate if they're drinking when they normally wouldn't.