Infrastructure maintenance and upgrading has been my passion for most of my adult life.
And my fascination was intensified by what I witnessed and experienced during my years in local government.
I was recently notified that we were about to experience public infrastructure upgrading as never before.
My wife Sue and I were handed a notice by BC Hydro telling us that, for the four days from March 28 to the end of the month, power to our home would be switched off between 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.
The notice included a reminder to turn off all lights, electrical heaters, major appliances, and to unplug all electronics during these times.
We were given 10 days’ notice to make whatever arrangements we would need to deal with this extended power outage.
We had experienced the occasional tripped breaker and periods without power, although I do not remember the last occasion.
Sue lived the early years of her childhood in a cabin on her parent’s trap line in the Northwest Territories, but her memories of life without electricity would not be of much help to us today.
We could have responded to the announcement by taking a holiday, a week-long trip to avoid the blackout altogether.
To make sure that all our electrical gadgets are disconnected, as cautioned by BC Hydro, we would simply have to remember to trip the main breaker on our way out of the house.
However, the mid-March weather was not of the kind to entice us to go anywhere. So we decided to stay put.
We could not dismiss the possibility that unforeseen events could extend the power outage, but we assumed that BC Hydro’s work would proceed as planned.
How difficult could it be for a retired couple to get along without electricity for four days?
We have three bathrooms: bright, warm, and well ventilated – but without windows. Shower by candlelight? That prospect was neither alluring nor practical.
We would have to abandon our current life of leisure retirement and get back to pre-retirement routine which is up, showered, breakfast and dishes done before 8:30 a.m.
We are more or less hooked on the Internet; Sue with her iPad and I with my desktop (plug-in) computer where I follow news events and do my research.
We will have to do our e-mailing and net surfing before breakfast and after dinner.
As we both are prolific readers of books (the paper kind) we knew that we would survive the daily blackouts.
What I expected to miss most would be the absence of music.
The sound of a piano piece by Beethoven or Chopin does indeed improve my ability to understand what I am reading.
We have stacks of CDs but no battery-powered player. As children, we both had wind-up gramophones, but these were discarded a long, long time ago.
The power outage will change our dinner routine; it will have to be late dinners or fast food.
On Tuesday, March 28 the power went off at 8:30 a.m. exactly as scheduled, but it was not restored until 6:15 p.m.
Our day went by as planned. We were well-prepared. In fact, it turned out to be a rather pleasant break from our daily routine.
On Thursday, March 30 we had all our electronics safely shut down by 8:30 a.m.
When the power was still on at 8:45 a.m., I walked over to the work site to ask the crew when we should expect the power to be shut off. To my surprise I was told: “You’re okay, we’re done with you!”
I mumbled something about the notice but was reassured that our ordeal was over.
Too bad – we had been looking forward to another power-free day. Mind you, I appreciate all the switches and plugs on our walls as never before.
Retired public sector administrator Andre Carrel lives in Terrace, B.C.