Florida Power & Light (FPL) is our electric company. In fact, it is the power company for most of the state of Florida, with some small exceptions. Those Floridians whose power is supplied by someone else should consider themselves lucky. The rest of us slobs are being lied to, getting poor service, and are being charged through the nose for those.
Witness one typical southern Florida thunderstorm: lots of lightning, quite a bit of wind, and torrential rain. This happens nearly every day during our rainy season, which happens to coincide with hurricane season (ssshhhh!), June 1-Nov. 30. We had one such frog-floater this afternoon.
Somewhere around 4:00P the power flickers. Less than 15 minutes later the power goes off entirely. OK, no big deal. It’s getting cooler out b/c of the rain. There are plenty of clouds to keep the temps down. I wait a few minutes, and then I call 1-800-4-OUTAGE, FPL’s automated power outage reporting number. [Does your power company have this wonderful technology? Pray it doesn’t.] The friendly automaton on the end of the line – “Press 1 for residential. Press 2 for complete outage. Press 3 to entire your account number. Please hold while we verify your account information. Is this your last name: D-O-O-F-U-S? If so, please press 1.” And so on. The friendly automaton reports that there are 294 people experiencing the same power outage, and the service should be restored by 7:00P.
Great! Now I have an excuse not to cook dinner. Wine Guy took the boys to the library for books and DVDs. I have a few quiet minutes to myself, which I use to hand-stitch Boston patches on to WT’s backpack. I felt much like Betsy Ross, stitching by candlelight (make that battery-operated lantern light). But, I digress. By the time my boys return from the library, it’s nearly dinnertime. We read the papers outside for a few minutes and then went over to Jason’s Deli for dinner.
We get home around 7:30P. No lights. Now, I’m pissed. I call 1-800-OUTRAGE again to find out what’s going on. Javier, the barely-English-speaking Customer No-Service Rep. in where-else-but-Miami tells me that I’m one of 294 homes experiencing this power outage. Duh! I heard that 3 hours ago from the automated system. Tell me something new, you witless wonder. I con Javier into divulging when FPL dispatched a crew to solve this problem: 7:30P. WHAT? FPL, that bloated bureaucracy of overpaid paper pushers, didn’t bother to dispatch a crew to fix this problem until 3 hours after the first incident was reported. New estimated time to restore service 9:15P. Yeah, right.
Oh, did I mention that the neighborhood immediately west of mine had power — everyone in my backyard had power. Did I also mention that the seniors and condos immediately east of my neighborhood had power? Did I mention, as well, that the townhouses less than 100 from the gate to my neighborhood had power? No? Just to be clear, the stoplight at the entrance of our street was working. The streetlight adjacent to that stoplight was working, and these utilities are not even 1 mile from my house. One of the main power lines for this county runs down a major thoroughfare 1/2 mile east of my house. But, MY STREET DIDN’T HAVE POWER. And, no one could tell me why.
After sitting discussing every trivial thing with Wine Guy for nearly 2 hours, I decided to call 1-800-OUTRAGE again. This time they recognize my phone number and tell me that my call will receive “Priority Status”. Ooooooh. I’m not impressed. I speak with another Customer No-Service Dummy who immediately transfers me to a Stupid-visor (read “Supervisor”). The Stupid-visor, Mr. Stevens (no first name, no employee number), proceeds to tell me that I’m one of 294 homes experiencing this power outage. Hearing this juicy fact for the fourth time sent me into orbit.
Me: How many homes in this county have lost power?
Stupid-visor: I don’t know.
Me: So, it takes FPL 3 hours to call out a crew to restore power to 294 homes — out of a county population of 300,000? Why did it take so long?
Stupid-visor: I don’t know. There are many homes without power.
Me: Aha! So, there are other homes w/o power. How many?
Stupid-visor: I don’t know. I don’t have that information. Yours is one of 294 homes experiencing this power outage.
Me: I heard that from a pre-recorded message 5 hours ago. What is the point of your being a supervisor if you don’t have better and more information than the recording? What kind of power outage is this?
Stupid-visor: I don’t have that information.
Me: Well, what information do you have? Do you have a map of my city?
Me: Do you have a computer display of this county?
Me: Where are you located?
Me: Let me put the problem into terms you’ll understand. [I choose a major artery in Miami, explain how all the areas around me have power but I do not. An easy translation for someone who lived 8 years in the northernmost port in Latin America.]
Stupid-visor: I’m sorry for the inconvenience. Your power should be restored around 9:15P.
Me: I want to file a complaint about shoddy power service in my neighborhood: every time there’s inclement weather, the power goes out in this neighborhood. I have filed this complaint every summer with FPL, and they still haven’t figured out the problem. You pass this on to someone who can actually do something about it, and have them get back to me. You have my phone number b/c I’ve entered it at least 4 times this evening.
Stupid-visor: Someone will return your call within 3 business days.
I hang up my cell phone and turn on a lantern. I try to distract myself by starting the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle. Wine Guy wanders back in and wants some attention. Go away, leave me alone. I am so not in the mood for this after dealing with a complete confederacy of utility dunces this week. Wine Guy goes to sleep. Alone.
At 10:00P, the power roars back on. Not 7:00P. Not 9:15P. 10:00 in the dark, muggy evening. I’m not fooled. I’m thinking the juice is going to go right off again, but it doesn’t. I make my rounds re-setting clocks, thermostats, televisions, pool equipment, appliances, and computers. I go upstairs to retrieve an extra lantern from the boys’ area and re-set everything up there. I find Wild Thing on the floor with his blanket, puppies, pillows and assorted other stuff. He hates the dark, and so does Moose. I wake WT up and shoo him back into his own bed. I go back downstairs and turn off all the lights and settle down to watch a show – on digital cable, which is now working properly, thank G-d – about the Medici crypts.
As the professor reveals the last of the Medici bones, the POWER GOES OUT AGAIN, at midnight. It comes back on a minute or two later, and so I roam around trying to re-set everything again. Which brings me here … to my computer … at 1:00 a.m. the next morning.
Die, FPL, die. You’re a bunch of lying, thieving, sub-moronic automatons that couldn’t screw in a light bulb without a 20-man crew.