Guest columnist Ginger Kelly|Men in big, white trucks deserve appreciation

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I know at least once everyone has been sitting at home watching TV, reading the paper, watching a football game or just finishing last-minute chores when suddenly engulfed in total darkness. The first thing that comes to mind is not printable and the second thing is, “What happened to the lights?”

People start stumbling around looking for candles and flashlights. We also discover that computer screens from the old models put off plenty of light as long as they are charged up! We locate our cell phones to make the urgent call to Entergy only to get a message telling us it will be approximately “blank” o’clock before the lights will be restored. We all instantly grumble and assume it will be much longer, but hope it will be much sooner. We sit. We wait.

This happened in Openwood subdivision last Sunday night. Right in the middle of “The Amazing Race,” the power went out. After the normal chaos and the phone call, we were elated to see those huge white trucks with the flashing yellow lights rumble by our house. Yeah! They are here! And pretty quick, too.

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We settled back with anticipation of resuming our prior activities before the black-out. A short time later we saw the huge white trucks stop right in front of our house! It was cold outside, so I chose to stay inside but the men couldn’t get out the door fast enough to go investigate.

I watched out the front window (in the warmth) as the men huddled, discussed the situation and made a plan of action. They opened the huge power box in the front yard.

One of the young electrical guys (we assume 40-ish but it was hard to tell. It was dark!) actually opened that monster box! From my perch at the window, I saw a mass of cables and wires that I wouldn’t want my worst enemy to touch and on top of that a family of ants had moved in for permanent residence. (My husband told me about the ants. I couldn’t see. It was dark!)

So, hearing the story from my significant other, they had to find the “bad” box to fix so power could be restored to all the blacked-out houses. To do this they had to turn on the Big Daddy generator. This would temporarily restore lights to everyone. Then they had to wait for the “bad” box to blow. It was nice being in the loop! I sure would hate to get power, get all excited just to have it go out again but, oh well. Sure enough the power came on. Then, out of nowhere, we heard it. A sonic boom! Literally! It was right in our back yard behind the fence. I was thankful my dogs were inside. They would have had heart attacks! It caused them to jump a foot in the air inside the house and erupt into a barking frenzy.

A few minutes later those wonderful huge white trucks with those wonderful young men returned. I watched the men climb out of the trucks, tugging on coats and flipping on flashlights. I watched them disappear toward my back yard into unknown territory, where there are snakes and God knows what kind of night critters to find that “bad” box. We saw the flashlights bouncing around and soon we were showered in glorious light once again. The clocks started blinking, the alarm was beeping and anything that was on when the lights went off made its presence known.

We are so spoiled. As these men started making their way back around the outside of our fence my two dachshunds escaped out the back door to be the great protectors that they were and barking loud enough to wake the dead. Thankfully the dogs were on the inside of the fence and I’m sure those guys were glad, too!

Suddenly I had this feeling come over me. These young men were heroes to me and heroes to everyone else who had power restored that night. These guys had been home with their families just like us, but they are the ones who had to get up and come out in the cold. Yes, it’s their job but I wouldn’t want to do it and neither would you.

Most of the time when they are called out it is pouring rain and the weather is offensive. I will feel different the next time the power goes out. I’ll know it’s not as simple as flipping a switch. I’ll know there are people out there working in unforgiving weather to make my life more comfortable. I won’t gripe and complain. I’ll be thankful I can stay warm and dry in my home.

Maybe next time the lights go out we try not to gripe. Maybe next time we try saying a prayer for these men and women. Maybe next time pray they stay safe while they do their jobs … for us.


Ginger Kelly lives in Vicksburg.