Gosh, today a squirrel jumped on a transformer and in a series of explosions managed to shut down the entire Downcity.
Here is how it went down in my building.
10:21. The lights flickered, and went dead.
10:22. Multiple exclamations ranging anywhere from “Oh, Fog and Hail!” to “What is going on?” (answer: power is out!)
10:23. Ruminations in the dark. (please note: In cube hell, there is no way to tell if it is night or day.) Someone starts eating a ham sandwich.
10:23. Bathroom break!
10:25. Out in the hallway, elevator emergency bell is ringing. Ring ring! RIIIIIING RIIING!!!! Muffled shouts. I holler at the middle elevator door. “We hear you! But I think the power is out!”
10:26. Curious Monkey decides to take the city beat and goes for a walk.
Ironically, the above route sort of looks like a squirrel.
If you turned the map with East at the top, it sort of does.
Anyway, man! that picture above is the likeness of one evil looking squirrel, isn’t it?. The kind of squirrel that would jump on a power transformer to… to… transform itself into a super electro-charged squirrel!
Because, WHY ELSE?
All squirrel-related conspiracy theories aside, during my walk, I noticed that the city had turned itself inside-out:
There were people outside of their offices, standing there on the sidewalk. What to do? What to doooooo?
Many were on their personal telephony devices, talking talking talking to SOMEONE about how they were just in the middle of all this work and oh my lord the power went out and no one knows what is going on???!!!
Many were not talking, but merely staring at their phones. Because the phones might impart some Very Important Message about What To Do In Case Of A Power Outage.
I bet twitter looked all like this:
OMG this is soooooo weird- apocalypse??? #poweroutageProvidence
Man outside of gtech said it was terrorists #poweroutageProvidence
WHEN can I go BACK TO WORK???!!! #poweroutageProvidence
Actually, I made that last one up.
In any case, as I took a seat on a park bench with a strategic view of black smoke billowing out of 15 West (OMG Fire in RISD dorm??? #poweroutageProvidence) which was AKSHULLY from them firing up an old stinky generator, I struck up a conversation with my RISD pal Dave Chandler about all the outrage from the outage. #poweroutrageProvidence.
We humans are pathetically unprepared. I mean, what do we do? We kind of stand there. As I walked by the parking garage on Dorrance St., an attendant was commenting to a passerby that “all my lifts are down. All these cars are stuck.” I envisioned what would happen if this were a for-real-OMG-apocalypse! and rather than it being this giant panic, I think it would be a resigned sigh. And then, once the internet goes down, tears.
Further down Dorrance, there was a food truck guy. After Portland, when I see a food truck, I look again. This was your regular old food truck, nothing fancy, but the guy was cooking for his one customer. They seemed okay. No power? No problem. I’ll have three weinuhs up the arm, all the way.
On my return loop, via the upper part of the squirrel’s tail and back (if you are tracking the route, as certainly you may be inclined to follow in these historic footsteps of Curious Monkey’s walk on The Day The Powah Went Out Because of A Squirrel in Providence Downcity) I started thinking about last Friday’s College Leadership Rhode Island session. It was an interesting day. An amazing day. It happened here: Harrington Hall, right near the prison, in Cranston, RI.
In the morning, upon arriving, none of us knew what in creation this building was. We only knew it was near hell (the DMV) in Cranston. An imposing brick structure built in the 30s or 40s. Some guys out front, smoking. I wasn’t sure this was the place. I was glad I was wicked early, because I circled the building about five times before deciding it was the right place.
When I walked in, I saw some conference tables and some tired looking chairs, and some hopeful paintings covering some less hopeful peeling paint. The carpet smelled a little like armpit. I saw some familiar faces and wondered, uh, why here? We were soon to find out. I got my name-tag, got a coffee, and my CLRI colleagues eventually filled in. Our first speaker was the AMAZING Jean Johnson. She told us why we were there. And showed us Manny’s Story. It was very moving, and gave us some background before later in the morning when we were all actually “booked” into Harrington Hall’s shelter, upstairs. Suffice it to say it was an eye-opening experience, one I will never forget. It puts things in perspective. We also had great conversations with some other non-profit leaders throughout the day.
I have always wondered what it must be like to be homeless here in Rhode Island. I have traveled to New Orleans, Long Beach, San Francisco and Portland and have seen some serious homelessness, made apparent. In Rhode Island, it is less in-your-face apparent. We see them, but we don’t see them. The same old regg’luhs. But their struggles are just as real and perhaps even more so, given our winter weather. It is wonderful to know that people like Jean Johnson and House of Hope exist, but there is so much more Rhode Island could be doing. We can all be doing.
Wouldn’t that be nice.
I imagine, though, that some of these guys at Harrington Hall, some of these folks on the street or under the bridge are way, way better equipped than any of us to handle a day like today.
They know what it’s like to suddenly find yourself out on the street, with nothing to do, unsure of what happens next.
Without a phone.