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The Great Blackout of 2012

CAPTAIN’S LOG

Start Date: June 7th, 2012

I write this to you in relative comfort and safety. Things have stabilized now; our world is as it should be. I write this not only in memorandum, but also in hopes that future generations can see how we prevailed, and know that there is hope. I have seen tragedies before; the Cowboys losing in the playoffs to the Giants in 2007; the hottest summer on record in 2011 (all the chocolate melted in the vending machines); the temporary scare that smart phones would replace barcode scanners; and the QR Code/Microsoft Tag skirmish of 2009. All were trying events, but they were nothing like this. (The events I write in this log are real, and are written to the best of my memory.)

Wednesday May 30th, 2012
Time: 8:45 p.m.

I was sitting at home on my couch, watching a certain television show on the History channel about two famous feuding families, when my phone vibrated alerting me of a new email that I received. Complete shock is what I experienced next. I don’t remember the exact wording, but it was something along the lines of, “Today a delivery driver backed into the main power supply of the building. As a result power has been cut from the building as of 45 minutes ago. We are working on a solution, but don’t foresee workstations being up until noon, at best, on Thursday.” Great! What is going to happen? How will our customers get their barcoding equipment, supplies and solutions? It was important that we get back up and running as soon as possible. I would show up early and help out where I could. Sleep did not come easy that night.

Thursday, May 31st, 2012
Time: 10:22 a.m.

I arrived and saw pretty much what I expected – an empty parking lot, doors open, and no lights on. I remembered to grab my lunch, a frozen dinner,  before I left home.As I walked in I went about my usual routine, or I at least tried. The lights were off, but the sun was out so it was not too dark. I went to put my lunch in the freezer…no luck there, the freezer is run by power; what was I thinking? I half laughed at myself and continued into the office. I saw a few people milling about, but for the most part the office was empty, as it should be…the email said noon. When I got to my desk the first thing I did was pick up the phone. They were working. “They just came back on,” a coworker said, “we are all up at the front.” Just as the parking lot suggested, there were only a few people. Since the phones had come back on line you could hear them ringing. We all raced to try and answer the phones that were ringing in the different cubes. Being in marketing, all I could do was explain the situation and take a message. “Sales will be in promptly at noon,” I would say, hoping it was true.

Much to my relief, it was. Most were even early . We had our full sales force in their seats and on the phone by noon. It was beautiful. We also lucked out that a cold front had come through. Instead of it being 95 degrees outside it was a mild 80, so things could have been much worse. The only issue now remaining was the lack of powered work stations. At 2:00 p.m., this problem was also remedied…kind of. Three generators were brought in, allowing for about 10 out of 50 work stations to be powered on; at least we could get orders out. I prayed for a better tomorrow.

Friday June 1st, 2012
Time: 8:00 a.m.

My prayers were  not  answered. As I pulled up,  the building was still dark, which meant a couple of things. One: obviously, the power was still off. Two: if the power was off, that meant, the air was still off. As I wrote earlier, yesterday we were  lucky, as it had been unseasonably cool, but today there would be no such luck. The forecast called for a temperature in the high  80’s! We must press on, I remember thinking, and press on we did. For the most part it was business as usual, except with a skeleton crew working in shifts as there were still only 10 work stations with power. BBQ was brought in for lunch, and we actually had a pretty decent sales day, all things considered. It was hot, it was uncomfortable, but  we were glad to do it, for you, our customers. Many companies would have shut down and waited for the ship to be righted, but not us!  We are not like most companies. We looked this mess in the face and said “bring it on.” I found out Monday morning that the power was not restored until 5:45 p.m., Sunday evening.

As I write this remembering the events of those days, it actually was not that bad. It was not ideal, but we made do. We were able to fill our customers’ needs, and we did it with a sweaty smile. Work almost seems too easy now; we are spoiled with air conditioning and light. Maybe, we should go without and challenge ourselves. Cut the power for a full week; it would only make us stronger. Wait…I just checked the weather. Never mind, forecast for next week calls for temperatures in the mid-90s. Maybe we should wait until October? Ah well, until next time Captain’s Log…I will write again soon.

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