Wednesday, July 23, 2008

George W. Bush Hates Illinois People

So I've spent the past few nights sleeping on my basement floor because that was the coldest spot in my house. Early Monday morning, my area was torn apart by a "rare and powerful derecho storm." We asked the Hispanic guy at work what "derecho" meant and he told us that it translated literally to "straight," which is probably a good thing because I'm pretty sure there are a lot of guys in the Midwest who would hate to admit their town got trashed by a gay storm.

I was at work in Davenport when the storm came through, watching the power flicker and hoping it would fail so we could go home and get paid for it. Turns out I was lucky the power didn't go out at work because then I would have absolutely nothing to do for the past few days as the storm knocked out power for every city East of the Mississippi until late tonight. For the first time I can remember I was actually envious of Davenport, but I'm sure that'll change the next time the water level of the Mississippi River rises. We may not have power, but they still don't have a flood wall. We'll get our power back; how many times are they going to rebuild their houses?

Of course, I was totally unaware of the extent of the storm damage before I got home. Who expects to have their ass kicked by a thunderstorm, really? I've lived through plenty of thunderstorms in my life and at worst lost power for maybe an hour or two. When I drove home, everything seemed completely normal with the exception of one traffic light, but as soon as I got uptown, it looked like Armageddon happened at the gas station.

The store where I used to work was the only business still open on the Illinois side of the river, so OF COURSE everybody on the Illinois side of the river suddenly realized they needed to stock up on important supplies like gas, batteries, beer, cigarettes, ice, and ice cream. Of course, they could have just driven three miles over to Iowa and gotten their gas cheaper, but who has that kind of time when they need to hurry home to do nothing for three or four days? The two-lane line for gas closed off the road for eight blocks for sixteen hours. They went through 700 gallons of gas per hour for 24 hours. They had two emergency gas deliveries that day and one early the following day.

I think either the Patron Saint of Electricity once blessed that corner or they formed an unholy alliance with Satan because that block has never lost power. The Cloverfield Monster itself could ransack the city and that block would still be fully operational, even with every power line running to it disconnected. My house is one street down from that block. We could probably run a line across the street to our block and steal their power if anyone knew how. That doesn't suck as bad as my buddy who could literally move one house to the left and have power, though.

Since I had nothing better to do, and since they had air conditioning, I spent most of Monday night at the store, helping them out, directing traffic, and whatever else. That one store generated over $55,000 of sales in one day and only $31,000 of that was gas. It made the news, except only people in Iowa could actually watch it. Of course, the owner was more worried about all the money he was losing at the other stores, but he's not really losing money. He's losing projected sales, but the thing about money you don't have yet is that you can't lose it until you actually have it to lose. That store is the tentpost of the company, and it normally makes between six and nine thousand a day, which means all the other stores make less, so he's still exceeded his profit margin if all those other stores were open. Plus, he doesn't have to pay overhead on those stores, nor does he have to pay wages. He's just the type who would rather find fault in the face of overwhelming triumph instead of actually congratulating anybody. If you gave him a red leotard and a pitchfork, he'd look like the devil.

On the radio Tuesday morning, they reported that the power company was still trying to assess the damage from Monday's storm. Um, what? You guys had a full day to assess the damage; you need to be in the fix stage by now. I could assess the damge in five seconds: AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! FUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCKKKKKKK!!!!!! OH SHIT OH SHIT OH SHIT!! I did notice as I was driving to work Tuesday morning that much of the ghetto did have power, which came as a major relief to me because I was truly worried that some people might be unable to make their crack cocaine and crystal meth while I was sleeping on my basement floor.

For once the power company was actually faster to restore power to the outlying areas quicker than the inner city. I think they were making up for all the winter storms when they can't restore power to those areas for weeks because it's impossible to get their repair trucks down the frozen dirt roads. No, they really don't have dirt roads, but I like to tease the smaller cities just like I like to rub their lack of a flood wall in Davenport's face.

Throughout the entire ordeal, I've tried to use my cynicism as a positive force to keep an upbeat attitude about not having power for three days. I'm really not that bitter because I realize that by comparison other people's problems dwarf mine. I could be in California on fire right now. I could be in Ceder Rapids watching my house float down the river. I could be in Texas watching all 160 of my wives get arrested. I could be in Davenport.


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