Granted, the title of this article is taken from one of Peter Ustinov’s books full of memories and anecdotes about life and human beings. But it goes so well with the events that are about to follow soon. But let us start from the beginning.
I am living in a small town in the agglomeration of Zurich. Recently, we had five power outages within a week. I was about to trim the head hair of the man in my life, who was squatting in front of me in the shower, back to 0.8 mm. But the hair clipper, plugged into the mains, suddenly packed up. Hm, maybe there was a problem with the socket? I tried another one. Nothing.
The second instinct drew me to the fuse box. Everything was in order. My husband was still squatting in the shower, waiting. I looked at the oven and saw that instead of displaying the time, the clock was filled with blackness. I turned on the light. Nothing. I looked out of the window and saw my neighbours standing on their balcony, smoking a cigarette. So I opened the window and shouted, “Do you have electricity?” “No, what about you?” “No.” “Are you calling the infrastructure operator of the community?” “Yes.”
I went back down to the bathroom and informed the still patiently waiting and squatting one about the current situation. Then I went out, stood up under the neighbours’ balcony and waited for the latest information from the phone call with the infrastructure operator in question. As I was standing and waiting, I*, another neighbour, came trudging through the snow and asked, “Do you have electricity?”
All right, the infrastructure operator was already aware of the power outage, dealing with the problem. I * trotted off and made my way back to the apartment. Shortly thereafter, someone knocked (not rang, due to no electricity) at my door. G*, another neighbour, asked: “Do you have electricity? You know, I first went to the fuse box and … well, then everything is clear.”
The hour has struck, we all knew now and I was wondering about the consequences. We just had dissolved yeast for a loaf of bread that was intended to rise under the warmth of the radiator. Will it still work out? We had also planned to make our Saturday’s weekend shopping. At Migros around the corner it would not turn out well. How should we find the food in the dark and then pay for it? Hopefully, there was no one in the elevator, when the power went out. Well, then we will drive to the nearest town for shopping. Our car lives on gasoline and the tank happened to be freshly filled. While I was still wondering, I asked myself, “When will we run out of fresh water?” The water treatment plant is next to the power supply at the bottom of the hill.
Oh, and now I realized with one blow: we have no Internet! We are completely cut off from the world! Having no light, being unable to cook, having no heating and warm water in the middle of winter is one thing. There are various back-up scenarios: candles, crispbread, warming one another under a blanket and for once no daily shower.
But no Internet! Permanently, I am active in any networks, reading news, posting, researching on Wikipedia. We were not even able to listen to music anymore. We have no TV, no hi-fi system, no CDs. Everything in our household runs over the Internet. Panic was widespread and my heart began to race. I became aware of the full extent of our dependency on electricity and the Internet.
But then, suddenly, a complete peace and calm came over me, a deep sense of freedom. “Interesting,” I thought to myself. A new self-understanding. Until then I was convinced that I had a fairly good control of my “online behavior”, that I would consciously decide on it. But my subconscious mind probably saw it differently. Now I was free, just not available (the battery of my smartphone displayed 9% remaining power). So what?
… the story is not over yet.
Returning home from shopping, the power was back on. We set the clock of the oven. We were invited to dinner by our neighbours – other neighbours, who have not yet performed in this play. We were baking our bread. And 1.5 minutes later, after we took the bread out of the oven, there was a snapping noise – and the power was out.
“The heck with it!”, we thought and went – armed with the warm bread and a flashlight – over to our neighbours. Of course, they have not been able to prepare the already well-advertised salmon casserole. And so we sat at their table by candlelight, laughed at life, ate the bread and cheese from the no-longer-cool fridge, and just enjoyed our time together. Like in the “good old days”.
I have experienced five power outages in a row now. After the third time I decided not to reset the clock of the oven anymore: Sisyphus work.