This is not about The Dark by Robert Munsch, although it could be. If you don’t know this story, you should get to know it. I had the opportunity to get vary familiar with Bob Munsch stories growing up because I lived in the same condo complex as him and his family. Our school probably got more than our fair share of story telling by the great Munsch.
In the story The Dark is a creature that Jule-Ann finds in a jar and when she lets it out it starts eating shadows and growing bigger and bigger until it is so large that it blocks out the light and Jule-Ann and her family can’t go outside because it is so dark. I love Bob Munsch stories and enjoy reading them to the girls because they provide great opportunities for crazy voices and sound effects. I can do that with many other books as well, but Munsch writes his stories the same way he tells them to an audience – with high entertainment value.
This is a story about what I was doing ten years ago when the lights went out across much of eastern North America. Ten years ago I was managing a bookstore and since it is a textbook store, we were busy getting ready for the start of the new semester in September. I was in my office when the power surged and then went out. I think we were also finishing up final touches on renovations that we had done in a new space that we had moved the store into. I think I remember someone painting and then being plunged into darkness.
Initially we had no idea what was going on and thought it was a local outage. I think there might have even been work crews working down the street and I think we assumed they had hit a power line or something like that to cause the power outage. We closed the doors and sat on the front stoop. Then we started hearing from people passing by that it was a city-wide outage. We had nothing else to do so we hung out on the sidewalk for a while. A couple of my staff started playing hangman on the sidewalk with guys who were on one of the upper balconies of the hotel across the street. Four of us started playing Ghetto Scrabble. Basically you can make up whatever words or phrases you want so long as you can use them in a sentence. It was WAQD.
Gradually we started to get news from passersby that the blackout was much bigger than just Ottawa. I managed to get ahold of my step-mother in Pennsylvania and since they had power she was able to give me the story about the scope of the outage. That made it pretty clear that the power wasn’t coming back on anytime soon so we closed down the store for the day and went marauding. We heard rumours of an ice cream shop giving out free ice cream in the Byward Market area so that it didn’t just turn into ice cream puddles. I remember getting ice cream, but am not sure whether or not it was truly free.
Laura was working for the Haunted Walks of Ottawa at the time and they kept working since the ghosts aren’t concerned about power outages, except of course for the ones who like to turn the lights on and off for fun. She gave tours in the pitch dark with only a tea light lantern to guide them.
I don’t remember how long we were without power, but I am reasonably certain that it was back on in the core of Ottawa the next day with potential for rolling brown-outs and black-outs as they got the power system back on-line. It didn’t last long for us, but I am pretty sure I wouldn’t have learned about Ghetto Scrabble without the power outage so it was a worthwhile power outage for me!
What were you doing when the lights went out?