--when the power went out.
This has happened before often enough for us to keep a variety of flashlights scattered about the apartment. We got the flashlights, and I went outside to see what was going on.
It turned out not to be only our apartment, or even just our building. The four buildings that form our complex had lost power, as had a few other buildings in the area. Our next door neighbors in the other building had not lost power, so we knew that this wasn't a major blackout. But I have to admit that I was relieved that it wasn't just our apartment, because that meant that someone else would take care of fixing it.
I called NSTAR's toll-free number to report the outage, and discovered to my frustration that it was no longer possible to speak with a human being, as the whole reporting of power outages is now handled by a voice mail system. There's something more comforting about knowing that a human being has actually listened to your request for service. I used their voice mail system to report the outage, and put in a request that they call with updates, but only between 8 AM and 9 PM so they wouldn't wake us. As it is, I had no way of knowing that NSTAR was actually working on the problem, which irked me throughout the night.
The hot, humid, sweaty night.
The air conditioner had been running in the bedroom, so it remained cool in there for about an hour afterwards. But once the heat filtered into the bedroom, there was no escape. I grew up with air conditioning, and I have little tolerance for heat. We read for a while, but no matter how I positioned myself, I simply could not get comfortable. I kept wishing for a large, battery-powered fan.
Somehow I managed to get to sleep, but then at about midnight the phone rang. Nomi picked it up. It was a recording from NSTAR, telling us that the power would be restored by 2:30 AM. Never mind the fact that I had pushed the buttons on the voice mail limiting such calls to hours we'd actually be awake...
I drifted off to sleep again.
At some point around 6 AM, I woke up in a groggy state and realized that the power was back on. I told Nomi, who already knew. In fact, bless her heart, she had gotten out of bed at 4:50 AM, when the power came back, and turned on the air conditioner. (That was my clue that the power was back.) I slept for about another half an hour.
This morning, after I got to work, I called NSTAR's business line and spoke with a very nice woman named Robin. She's going to get back to me later today with the details of what happened, but it sounds like a transformer went out due to an overload. (I did my best not to be irate towards her, and I think that helped.) We did find out that we're on circuit 3617, so next time I have to call NSTAR, I can tell them that -- assuming we reach a human being.
This incident reminds me of Friday, August 10, 2001, when many parts of Brookline, Brighton, and Allston lost power. We didn't get it back until the next morning, and I had a miserable night trying to sleep. In November 2001, Brookline Town Meeting referred to a Moderator's Committee a motion to investigate whether the town could form its own municipal power company. In the end, the town chose not to do so, but if power outages continue to happen, maybe we'll take it up again.