When you are 17 a power outage is the end of the world

February 25, 2007

In 1981, when I was 17, if a storm blasted through Grand Rapidsand knocked the power out it was no big deal. We’d light a few candles, gather in the kitchen, play cards, and we’d wait it out. No big deal. If the batteries were fresh we’d listen to the radio. If the phone worked we’d call the local radio station and get weather updates. Life was simple. No power pretty much meant it was dark. Even at 17 that was fun. The best…

In 2007 things are different…much different. Faced with a power outage caused by the ice storm of the decade our little boy has had a great time. It’s been an adventure. From the frantic search for candles, to playing cards, telling stories and just hanging out as a family, what could be better? On the other hand, our youngest daughter has had the worst weekend of her life. Even at 17 this is as bad as her life has ever been. The worst…

It all began yesterday very early in the morning. The weather man gave us two scenarios. Expect 12” of snow or have an ice storm the likes of which we’ve never seen. Call it ice time. Around three the windows were iced over so bad we couldn’t see out. Soon after that the trees started to fall, at the end three in all. At four my daughter’s world came to a screeching halt. The power went out. She wasn’t fit to live with. Candles, cards, and heaven forbid family time…no way.

By midday Sunday we were discussing whether or not to have her graduate early and enroll in College. Why not get on to being 2/3rdsempty-nesters? Nothing satisfied her. Why? What was different from when I was 17 and losing power was an adventure? I started to think about it. When I was 17 being connected meant you had lots of friends. At 17, though my daughter may not look at it that way, she is major-league connected. Yes, she has tons of friends (I pay her phone bill), but her connectivity is different.

Connectivity today needs power, lots of power. Power outages are tragic. PC’s take power. Routers take power. The local ISP needs power. Without power there is no Internet. Without the Internet a seventeen-year-old has only a cell phone to stay connected and that connectivity only lasts as long as the batteries. Without power she can’t even watch television. What’s interesting is that on a perfect day she is on the Internet, her cell phone and watching television all at the same time.