Sizing Up Regret



Urgency Day 197

500 Things Items 292-96: Five Failing Flashlights

  • History: Why do flashlights never light when needed?
  • Value: Misplaced peace of mind
  • Parting Pain: Replacement costs
  • Un-possessing: Recycle

Okay, locals. What did you buy for the snowpocalypse that you regret?

After Paul and the Self-Contained Unit shoveled our driveway and helped dig out several neighbors’ drives and as much of our cul-de-sac as humanly possible– and mind you, my guys were working without snow blowers– Paul and I walked the neighborhood. There was a great deal of bon vivant.

It was Day One.

A couple we spoke with observed that even though none of us was likely to be driving anytime soon, they would be just fine. They had

  • bread,
  • toilet paper,
  • and wine.

They. Were. Just. Fine.

I am an East Coast girl by birth. More specifically, a Washingtonian, Virginia suburbs. If you’ve heard but scoffed incredulously at the reputation that region has for snow preparations– i.e. that school is cancelled before the first flake even falls, if it ever does fall— as a native, I implore you to adjust your opinion. I want you to multiply your scoffing by a factor of 100. Absurd. No, pitiful sums it up.

When I thought about the provisions this ex-pat Easterner had laid in for our recent storm, I felt pretty smug. No crazy trips to the store— tearing the last loaf of Wonderbread, the last can of deviled ham, the last ten eggs (because two were cracked but you bought them anyway) so your family would survive—not here in Chicagoland. A little extra wine, yes, but that could be justified by any number of Impending Events. A Tuesday night, for example.

Putting aside my Midwest-transplant smugness, here’s the thing I bought that was pure East-Coast apocalyptic impulse:  Extra size C batteries.

Why size C? Double A’s, sure. Every gadget in kid-land runs on double A’s, but why the heck did I impulsively grab extra C’s?

NOAA: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. I had a vague memory that our NOAA radio runs on C’s. A sudden concern flashed into my brain while waiting on line at the grocery store:  If the blizzard knocked out the region’s power grid, we should track the storm through our battery-operated NOAA radio. Ominously eyeing the half-full racks of batteries at the check out, the ability to track the storm, if the power went out, suddenly seemed imperative. I grabbed 3 packs of C’s for the radio. Six zippy back-ups:  Check.

I love my NOAA emergency alert radio. It chirps every Wednesday at 10:00 in the morning just to reassure me that it’s still standing sentry; monitoring everything from climate emergencies to volcanic eruptions, from boil-water notifications to approaching-iceberg warnings.

Shortly after we moved to Illinois, I began to notice that a lot more tornadoes occur in this part of the country than in Virginia. This was especially inescapable with the routine tornado sirens that go off every Tuesday morning in our township. It seemed sensible to this skittish Easterner to have an even more localized emergency alert system, say one next to my side of the bed.

Perhaps buying some last minute extra batteries to ensure the working of my emergency alert radio may not seem like such a panicky precaution to take before a predicted Apocalypse. And it wouldn’t have been, truly.

If I had bought the right size batteries. In the right number.

(Our power never went off.)


One Response to “Sizing Up Regret”

  1. melanie Says:

    After coming here from calm Colorado and experiencing many power outages, I decided a flashlight in every room was in order. I actually labeled each flashlight with the name of the room it would go in. Heaven forfend I would end up with 2 flashlights in one room and another room goes hungry!Since there is a flashlight app in the smart phone, no more flashlights for me. Full disclosure: I do have a Costco-quantity of emergency candles.

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