Fred & Wilma, 1st Day

2.  1st Day

I was sitting at my computer, surfing the net as I like to do. My butt was getting sore, right up at the top of the crack. The lights and ceiling fan stopped working, my computer is connected to solar so it stayed on, so I got up to check and saw the rest of the house electric was down, except for the solar part. Great, I thought. Looks like another squirrel got fried on the transformer.

 So, went outside to check, but our neighbors to the south of us across the street were out of electric also. So it wasn't fried transformer squirrel this time. Last time it was about a 5 pounder. Well, at least 1 pound.

 Well shit I thought, must be a rolling blackout.

 So, went back inside and dug out the Baofeng UV5R radio and turned it on, and noticed it had a low charge. I will plug it into the solar later I thought, and went to the local NOAA channel to check in, to see if we had high winds or something. Nothing was coming thru on NOAA so I checked my printout of frequencies and went to the local sheriff frequency and listened for a half hour or so. Nothing came thru there either.

 So I goes outside to see if any of our neighbors are out and about. Because it is cold outside nobody was outside. Can't say as I blame em thought Fred. I'm gonna go back in myself.

 Then I noticed a huge cloud of smoke coming from the east. I hopped into one of my many broken down vehicles that still ran, then got back out to go tell my wife where I was going. As I went inside I pulled my cellphone out to call our daughters to say hi! in my high pitched falsetto voice I always use when I try to be funny. Dialed our oldest daughter, nothing, no ring nothing. Dialed our youngest daughter, nothing, no ring nothing. Dialed our grandson, no ring nothing.

 Well shit, now what? Is my phone broke? I know I'm broke.

 Found Wilma sitting at the small kitchen table, told her about it, and she decided to go with me. Nothing she can do here anyway. So out we go to the car, get in and turn on the heater full blast and head east to see whats going on. Turn the radio on, but no signal anywhere, am or fm. At least we were getting out of the house, Wilma told me. While we are  out let's stop at the high dollar store and pick up some lunchmeat for supper sandwiches tonight, and maybe some macaroni salad.  That sounded good to me, too tired to cook anyhow.

Going east down the main road, not too much traffic in the little suburb. No lights on in any of the stores. Blackout comes all the way down here. Get outside of the little burb and see flashing lights off in the distance, and a huge column of smoke.  As we get closer we see the electric substation is fully ablaze, causing all the smoke we see. And firetrucks are across the street at the new development, I guess to keep the fire from spreading to those houses.

 Well shit, I didn't think this substation was for us. Maybe they just got power off everywhere just to keep this under control. All traffic was stopped, nothing getting thru. I noticed the chp had 4 or 5 officers there so I left the truck running for the heater, and walked down to see if I could get some info. The officers were just standing there, and as I got close I could hear them saying something like, all the way to Frisco, and down in LA and all the way past Reno.

 I got their attention and they all started yelling at me to get back in my car and get out of here. For your safety. Assholes. All I wanted was some info.

 So I goes back to my wife, and we managed to head the other direction. Back in the small burb we stop in at the highdollar store. No lights on inside and the clerks at the door says all the registers are down. I ask if we pay with cash can we come in, and she says ok. So my wife agrees with me and we head in. We didn't have any headlamps, but I have my 400 lumen energizer flashlight with me, it's part of my everyday carry. So I ask Wilma how much cash she has, and she has about $140 bucks, I still got $500 on me. So I ask her why don't we just load up everything we can till we figure out what the heck is going on? She looked at me kind of strange, but says OK. I didn't think anything of her look, because most of the looks she gives me are her wondering what the hell is he thinking now kind of thing.

 We ask one of the clerks to go with us and add everything up as we go, using their phone calculators. Huh, Fred thought, before I retired I would have had my office depot pocket calculator out doing that.

 There were no other customers in the store, so the clerk said ok. We got several cases of water then hit the canned goods, and the fresh meat bin. We filled up 2.5 carts and the clerk said we are at $458.00 plus any taxes now, so about $500. I asked Wilma if we should stop, we did. Gave the girl ten fifty dollar bills, cavalierly said "Keep the Change!" She snarled at me to have a good day. Barely got stuff loaded in the car without running out of room.

 Get home and get unloaded without incident. Several of my neighbors are out in the street talking so I head over.

 Everybody is just kind of shooting the shit, nobody is talking about the power outage, so I bring it up. The others didn't know anything about it, just a rolling blackout they thought. At least it wasn't a transformer fire like the one on Thanksgiving eve 2 years ago. (My little solar system really saved our bacon on that one, as we were able to run both fridges and the freezer and didn't lose any food. Unlike a lot of my neighbors who had to scramble to take their turkeys elsewhere to cook.)

 About that time a county sheriff's deputy is driving by, sees us standing around, and says have somebody at the local State Food market at 4 pm for an announcement and to tell other neighbors.  That gives me 30 minutes to notify a couple of my neighbors, grab Wilma and head out. When we get there parking is nonexistent the sheriffs have the driveways roped off and are directing people to leave their cars and congregate in the parking lot.

 At 4 pm a deputy starts talking into the PA system of his truck. Gets everyones attention finally.

 The gist of what he said is there has apparently been an extremely overwhelming cyber attack on the nations electrical grid, and on radio communications, and other forms of electronic communication. EVERYTHING IS DOWN. No police radio,all cell towers are down, all landline is down, no internet, he didn't know about ham radio repeaters, no 911 calls, no way to notify anyone of anything except by direct messenger.  Whats that I thought? Text, cell, email? Instagram? Oh shit. There go the millenials.

 And that is all the announcement they had. No mention of who did it, how far along the repair(if any) was or how long it might take. OR how they got their information. That was a question I had. But I bet it was the damn russians, there were rumors they were going to cyber attack us. Wonder if we retaliated.

 So now here we all sit. No phones, no pool, no internet, I aint got no cigarettes. Talk about going back to the dark ages. At least we have the pandemic to see us thru.

 Crap, crap, and double crap. I grab Wilma and we hobble back to the car as fast as our little footsies will take us. I notice others doing the same, but most people are just milling around. I see a couple of guys I know that work at the NAPA store and stop to say hi. They are just as confused and concerned as us, so I make a suggestion.

 "Fellas, when everyone clears out of here and you have a little quiet, you might want to take your vehicles around back and quietly start taking as much stuff out of your store as you can load and get the hell home. Don't let anyone see you. Concentrate on batteries, flashlights, oil, gas cans, consumable items. Never know when you might need them. And I think sooner rather than later, the socalled authorities are going to seize the property of all commercial business. Such as the State Food market. So if you got cash, you better stop in there too."


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