Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The One Stressor of this Gig.

How about that crazy storm last night. I've heard a few people refer to it as 'just like the storms I used to see in Florida'. Lightning everywhere, wind, heavy downpours, climaxing in, of course, the obligatory power failure. Right during the middle of the Celtics-Lakers game. A few buddies and I were enjoying a cold one at the Brass Cat while we watched Kobe, Kevin and their mates go at it, when the bar, along with most of the town, instantly plunged into darkness. To most, it was probably pretty cool. Quiet, dark, and still. Just the sounds of the rain and thunder and the occassional woosh of a passing car. For me, it was that with a distinct flavor of 'oh sh*t'. You see, I have 300 gallons of ice cream, and the many me-hours it took to make them, sitting in freezers in every corner of my shop. 300 dear friends put in harm's way when electricity stops flowing to their life support system, their square home's compressor.

Needless to say, power outages are just plain stressful. Most power failures only last a few minutes, so I try not to get too anxious for those first few. I take a few deep breaths and try to extend this worry-less mindset for an hour or two, repeating to myself (and usually everyone around me) that I need not worry yet. Maybe in four hours, but not yet. After that, bad things start to happen to my frozen friends. Unless I come to their rescue, riding in on my shiny red portable gas generator (cue Gladiator music)...

Most people went home from the Cat when the emergency lights ran out of battery power, when Mike was forced to kick us all out. A few drove off to find a pub with the lights (and the game) still on. As I wandered home in the darkness, shuffling through the rain, just me and that pit in my stomach, I knew I wasn't sleeping until the power returned.

A nighttime power failure is a blessing and a curse. No business is lost, since once the power goes out, it's most important that no one goes in the freezers. The only cold the ice cream will enjoy is what's in there, and opening the freezer door greatly accelerates the melting process. Not hard to understand that, but whenever there's a power failure during scooping hours, some people actually get mad when you say you can't serve them. As if their single scoop of mint chip is worth putting 1800 other scoops at risk. Thankfully, most people are pretty cool about it. Disappointed, sure, but understanding. Especially when they see the look of anxiety carved into my face.

Even if you didn't stay up until 1:30am last night, you probably still figured out that power was restored to our fair street after about three hours. Long enough to stress me out to the point of getting Jenny the generator ready for duty. As you can see from the shot, I didn't actually haul her out of the basement, but she was as close as she's been in a couple years. I really wasn't looking forward to waking everybody up at 2am when I fired her up. I could hear the singing of the town hall generators about a half mile away, and although I'm certain my 3500 watt number wouldn't drown out theirs, it certainly would have woken up the light sleepers in our building.

So all's well that ends well. Can I just tell you about the feeling you get when the lights come back on. It feels like the weight of a yellow Smart Car being lifted off your shoulders in one instant. Phew.

And before I go, just to give you a flavor for the fun you missed last night by not actually owning your own ice cream shop during a power failure, I thought I'd share a few shots of me rummaging through one very dark basement. Hunting down power cords and such. And in a fortuitous intersection of luck and dorkiness, I just happened to have impulse-purchased a halogen headlight for night biking only a few days ago...

Kindof Blair Witch Project-ey, eh?

In any event, all the freezers are humming like tops today, having survived a couple crazy hot days. Perhaps they just needed a few hours off to catch their collective breaths while I learned to appreciate them even more...

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