Soundbyte-sized Lessons From the Blackout

If you watched or read the news you know that many of us in Northern California experienced power blackouts because the firestorms to the north are raging! The gusty winds could potentially send embers flying…and start additional fires. Downed power lines could ignite fires as well. Or so we were told—as most of us were without power from 2-4 days.

What that meant: no electricity, no hot water, no traffic lights, no gas, limited sources of food and HORRORS …coffee. In the bigger picture, people who rely on electricity for medical machines, were in life-threatening trouble. Some people had generators…most didn’t.

BYTE-Sized Lessons I Learned:

1. When “they” tell you to have emergency supplies, DO IT. We get so complacent and think it “will never happen” or that “it’s not a big deal.” Having been in our Loma Prieta Earthquake and now this massive power blackout, I would beg to differ with such nonchalance. We were advised to have ample water, flashlights, cash…as ATMs wouldn’t work, full tanks of gas, battery/solar operated camping lamps and radios and a bag packed in case of evacuation and food that didn’t require cooking or heating. Thank you peanut butter and tuna and bags of popcorn! I didn’t have a solar lamp with radio and now I do. Still have to buy a ladder to suspend from my balcony… just in case. HOPEFULLY, I’ll never have to use it but I also pay for earthquake and fire insurance I hope not to need.

2. For all those who have “cut the cord” from their landlines, please know that my OLD SCHOOL AT&T copperwire landline worked and required no “charging”. Comcast, U-Verse phones are VOIP and do not work during a power outage. Keeping my OLD SCHOOL phone was wise.

3. Talk to neighbors. One had a propane barbecue that heated my pre-brewed coffee. I offered my landline phone for those who needed to make calls.

4. Have an escape plan as in where can you escape to.Not everyone can afford to camp out at the Fairmont.(Although that would be my “camping site” of choice). Several friends offered me a place to stay. One offered a place to work.

5. Know the difference between inconvenient and life-threatening. What we experienced here in Marin was inconvenient moreso for some than for others. The raging wildfires burnt down homes, businesses, schools, parks, trees and was spreading and was life -threatening.

6. I learned who and what were worth investing my phone and Ipad’s battery life.

7. I learned my value, importance and “heart place” with others.There were offers of a place to stay from people whose generosity was surprising and touching and as far away as Maine, North Carolina and Chicago. And from others….far more attached (or so I thought) and closer…there were also messages: Dead Silence! They didn’t call or email (text/WhatsApp/Insta/Facebook). NADA. I will fondly remember those who offered support.
It’s unlikely I’ll forget those who forgot me.

8. Once again there’s reinforcement to The Secrets of Savvy Networking: Staying in touch with people only when you need something is “using”. Staying in touch with others to see if they may need something is thoughtful and menschy.

9. We’re not personally powerless without electricity; just inconvenienced.

10. There is always a punchline...even if takes days to find it. As it is written in the Talmud: Humor is tragedy plus time.
Best line of the whole “balagon” was from someone who knows my cooking/kitchen lack of affinity: “Look at the bright side. When your fridge didn’t work, you didn’t lose food!”

As Edith Ann (Laugh-In’s Lily Tomlin) would say, “And that’s the truth!”

More power to you….

About Susan RoAne

Susan RoAne leads a double life as a sought-after professional keynote speaker and a bestselling author. Known as The Mingling Maven®, she gives diverse audiences the required tools, techniques and strategies they need to connect and communicate in today’s global business world. The San Francisco Chronicle says she has a “dynamite sense of humor.” To hire Susan to speak for your company, association or college, 1.415.461.3915