open letter

Dear HL&P/Reliant/CenterPoint Energy,

As an account holder of yours since 1992 or thereabouts, I have generally been pleased with your provision of electricity to my dwelling. Sure, there was that week in September 2008 when we had no power, but that was Hurricane Ike’s fault, not yours. It was unseasonably cool that week, so the lack of air conditioning wasn’t such a huge deal. Plus, we ate dinner with our neighbors, sharing what few provisions we had over candlelight and wine. Magical.

I digress.

Since moving out of our 1920s house in the Heights and into our 1950s house in Spring Valley, I cannot say that I’ve been pleased with your services. In less than two years, we have lost power for multiple hours at least five, and perhaps as many as seven or eight, times. Even though we know not to open the refrigerator during an outage in hopes that the food will be salvaged, we always end up throwing away most of our cold food supply. I’d hate to shuffle off this mortal coil because of tainted lunch meat or bad salad dressing.

The problem is that this becomes an expensive proposition after the second or third round. We’re becoming a bit more bold now, keeping everything that isn’t dairy/meat/cheese/egg related. You can rebuy pickle relish and salsa only so many times before you just say fuck it. But two cartons of eggs, a gallon of milk, a quart of 1/2 n 1/2, frozen yogurt, multiple cheeses, lunch meat, hummus, tzatziki and two steaks is still a chunk of change.

So what’s the deal?

How can this keep happening every couple/few months? Yesterday afternoon, a storm blew through. The power went out at 4:30PM, no surprise, at which time I promptly reported the outage. I have your number saved in my phone since I have to call so regularly. About an hour later, you called (well, your robot did) asking if my power was back on. I called James and found that it wasn’t, so I re-reported the outage. At 9:30PM, you called (this time non-robot) and asked if my power was still off. It was. Our house and two others on the street. Everyone else was swimming in electric light and AC.

I gave up hoping this would be resolved any time soon and headed to bed around 11PM. It was hot and still in our bedroom. I laid on top of the covers and tried to quiet my sweaty brain. I couldn’t get comfortable, so I flipped this way and that, hoping to find a cool spot. At one point, one of my feet ended up hanging off the side of my bed (something I normally take great effort to keep from happening because of my deep-rooted fear from childhood that something lurks under the bed waiting for someone to be stupid enough to dangle a hand or foot down that it can grab). I wasn’t as vigilant as usual, and my foot swung off the bed where it was promptly deposited into my dog Dali’s open mouth. I don’t know why she happened to be standing next to the bed instead of lying on her dog bed a few feet away, but for that brief moment I thought I really screwed the pooch, so to speak, and was in the clutches of the thing under the bed. I felt cold/wet nose and warm/wet mouth on my heel as my heart jumped into my throat. Then I realized it was only one of the dogs. Not the thing under the bed. Relief quickly turned to irritation.

Dali was standing next to my bed instead of lying on hers because she was HOT. Do you know what dogs do when it’s hot? They pant. Do you know what 75-pound, panting dog breath smells like in a hot still room around 1AM? It stinks.

The repair crew finally showed up with a very noisy cherry picker to replace the transformer on the light pole just outside our bedroom. I listened to the soothing sounds of two men yelling back and forth to each other over the whine of their vehicle as they continued to flash bright lights across our yard and into our bedroom. They managed to get the power back on a bit after 3AM, and I finally lost consciousness around 3:30AM. Today, I threw away our food.

Are we in some sort of vortex? Is it the grave of Chamus the Famous in the back yard that’s causing this trouble? Whatever it is, I’d like for this exercise to stop. I’m tired of having to replace our mayonnaise.

Crystal Jackson

One response to “open letter”

  1. If you rag their ass they’ll eventually come around. They’re not insensitive, just slow.

    In the meantime, some pointers: You don’t have to throw away the eggs. For hundreds of generations humans have known that eggs don’t have to be refrigerated. Don’t throw away the cheeses – they shouldn’t be in the icebox anyway. You buy cheese and keep it at room temperature while it ages, getting better by the day. Most of the green and blue addenda are good for you. Why throw away the yogurt? It was already spoiled. And the steaks. Do what I did when I discovered that the Deepfreeze in the garage had died, leaving me with five racks of no-longer-frozen spare ribs and two no-longer-frozen rabbits: I fired up the grill and started cooking. I gave everything else – the squirrel the cat killed, 4 packages of Sister Schubert’s biscuits, 8 packages of cranberries, a couple of dozen Ziplock bags of unlabeled mystery meat and vegetables – everything else went to the city.

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