While yesterday was supposed to be the longest day of the year, we in the Chicago suburbs were cheated out of a couple of hours as the wake of a tornado swept through my town. I’ve never seen such huge trees bent over and peeled like bananas. And from 8:30 pm last night until 5:30pm tonight, we were without power. My cell phone died, too.
I shouldn’t be phased by these things. I’ve lived through worse. But since I’ve been back in the US for 13 years, I’ve become spoiled and accustomed to unlimited energy and water.
That wasn’t always the case. I turned 20 while living in this Hong Kong dormitory 20 minutes south of the China border. The dorm might look beautiful on the outside, but it betrays an exposed walkway out back where we’d saunter out to the bathrooms. The university was built over a mountain. China supplied the water and sometimes it just stopped flowing.
Sucked for us.
I always knew when the water was turned off. As soon as I walked into the outdoor corridor, I could smell the noxious fumes from the unflushed toilets. The worse the stench, the longer the water had been turned off. As a result, I’ve had countless nightmares of searching through public restrooms trying to find an empty toilet. I know that’s really gross. But it’s true.
I moved into this dorm, also at the same university, weeks shy of my 24th birthday. We sometimes didn’t have power, but the water usually flowed regularly. And the toilets were clear.
And then there’s China. Would you want to be in this small city without power?
My former in-laws lived here, two hours from one of China’s three ‘furnace’ cities. The Chinese government never recorded temps over 39C (102F) because once it reached 40C, no one had to work. So it just never went above 39C. Yeah, right.
When the power went out at my former in-laws’ apartment, it didn’t really matter. They’d never owned an air-conditioner until I joined the family. And then when they finally bought one, they put it in the bedroom where I slept. But the rest of the apartment went au naturale. So we all sweated through the summer days without so much as a fan.
In the end, I always feel thankful. Things could always be worse, no matter how horrible you think you have it.