Chick Wit: An ice-cold power struggle

Posted: February 24, 2014

Now is not the winter of our discontent.

Now is the winter of our stressed-to-the-max, pull-out-our-hair, if-we-get-more-snow-I'll-move-to-Florida - because we have lost heat, electric, and Internet, and we have salted, shoveled, and plowed through snow, sleet, and ice.

But to me, the problem isn't heat.

It's ventilation.

As in, we need to vent about how much this winter sucks.

Who says talking about the weather is boring?

All I want to talk about is the weather.

I'm lucky enough to have a generator, but it didn't work in the beginning, even though it cost a small fortune. Then when I finally got it working, I had light and heat only in the kitchen, where I had a laptop and a refrigerator.

And a burglar alarm.

To protect the refrigerator.

Also, I had a book deadline, because I arrange my book deadlines to occur at the worst possible times for my continued solvency.

I got enough propane refills to keep me working for six days, during which I had no Internet or cable and no communication with the outside world - except when I called my electric company, which was very concerned about my power outage.

I know, because their recorded message told me so.

All monopolies have recorded messages that tell you how much they care about you.

It's like the worst marriage ever - to a really controlling robot.

Every night I called and followed its mechanical prompts to plug in my phone number, tell it I was still out of power, and find out when my power would be back. And every day, the recording told me that my power would be restored in two days. Then I realized that no matter when I called, it always said the power would be on in two days.

It wasn't a deadline.

It was a dead lie.

Two days turned out to be like the tricky 20 minutes they tell you to stay on the phone for technical support, or to wait for a table in a restaurant, or to fill out this simple and easy credit application.

We are all rendered powerless by our power company.

They win every power struggle.

Because they have the power.

Day after day, I stuck it out, living in my coat and forehead flashlight like a demented gynecologist.

When the eighth day came, I made my deadline, but I still had no Internet connection and couldn't e-mail my book to my publisher.

So I packed my laptop and fled to Daughter Francesca's apartment in New York City, which always has power.

It's a powerful town.

You know why New York always has heat, light, and shoveled sidewalks?

Lawyers.

Every building owner knows he will get his butt sued if you fall on yours.

As a result, snow is salted, shoveled, and plowed before it hits the ground. Really, people are hired to run around and catch snowflakes in their cupped hands.

The lawyers keep New York hermetically sealed in a cushioned bubble, like Planet Manhattan, and the only problem with Planet Manhattan is that no one there wants to hear you vent.

They will listen for about one minute - the proverbial New York minute.

So I e-mailed my book to my publisher, met my deadline, and kissed my beloved daughter goodbye.

I came home to Pennsylvania, where I'm happy to listen to you vent.

Go for it.


Look for Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella's columns in their newest collection, "Meet Me at Emotional Baggage Claim." Lisa's latest Rosato & Associates novel, "Accused," is in stores now.

lisa@scottoline.com.

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