After 54 hours, our power was thankfully returned to us late last night.
During those 54 hours, I had nothing better to do than repeatedly dial Alabama Power’s automated system enough to crash their server. I also checked out their website, and in said process, I read their FAQs.
I discovered that their frequently asked questions are, apparently, asked by people so delirious from their lack of power that they have lost all common sense – nay, they have lost all intelligence.
Despite the awesomely ridiculous questions, Alabama Power’s answers are lovingly patient and have the aura of parental affection in their careful explanation. But I cannot help but read between the lines of their overly explanatory answers and see what they’re really thinking – I believe that they’re having a completely different dialogue in their head.
Which is why I chose to rewrite their answers during my hours in the dark.
In bold are the actual, real, sadly most frequently asked questions, according to Alabama Power…
Does Alabama Power turn off power before a storm?
Alabama Power actually answers, “No. When a major storm strikes, Alabama Power’s computerized system keeps up with the lines and substations that go out of service… If power were turned off, Alabama Power would have no idea where the major damage was and restoration would be slowed…”
What they wish they could say:
Thank you for that wonderful question. I am now marking your account with the notation of “conspiracy theorist”.
You DO realize that we want to make money here, right? But, more importantly, we don’t want our houses bombed by all of the maniacal Spann fans who await with great anticipation for a storm event so that they can drool all over their television, swooning over his adorable suspenders and rolled-up sleeves.
While we’re at it, we’ll go ahead and fill you in: Yes, man really did walk on the moon, no, our government isn’t run by UFOs, and no, Elvis does not live on a remote island off of Antarctica.
Should I stop the crews in the bucket trucks to let them know my power is out?
Alabama Power answers: “No. While Alabama Power line crews are happy to assist customers where possible, stopping them to ask questions or make special requests only slows restoration.”
What they wish they could say:
You know how you shouldn’t look a flying bird in the eye for fear of getting a gift in said eye? The same goes for our guys in the bucket trucks, as we arm them with bucketfuls of the wet and lumpy variety of bird crap to toss down on anyone that feels the need to inform them that their power is out. They know.
Why are crews leaving my neighborhood when the power is still out?
Alabama Power explains: “Be assured Alabama Power crews are not leaving because it’s “the end of the work day”. Crews could be leaving for a variety of reasons: they need to pick up more supplies to continue restoration; conditions have become unsafe; or the problem needs additional work.”
…or MAYBE they’re leaving because you went out to tell them your power was out, and they made the logical decision to restore power to other less annoying neighborhoods first. Or maybe they ran out of bird-crap-filled bowls.
Should I call Alabama Power every day that my power’s out to make sure the company knows I don’t have electricity?
Alabama Power responds: “Following a severe storm with widespread power interruptions, customers should wait a reasonable amount of time before calling…the company knows where the power is out due to it’s automated system.”
What they wish they could say: We know you’re going to call every half hour anyway, so by all means – call to your heart’s content. We’ve front-loaded our system with enough automation to make sure that you never reach an actual human in the process, so have at it!
But you might like to know: the reason that the estimate backs up every time you call is because we’re marking you and your ridiculous number of phone calls, and each call costs you one hour of unrestored power. See ya next month, suckers!!
If my home has structural damage, can’t Alabama Power go ahead and turn power back on before repairs are made?
Alabama Power Explains: “No…As a general rule, a licensed contractor must make repairs and an inspection permit issued by the county before Alabama Power can restore electricity to a damaged structure.”
What they mean is: We would LOVE to wire your house back up and fry you to another state, but then we’d get sued by your slightly smarter relatives, so we’ll refrain.
Will my account with Alabama Power be credited for the time I was without power?
Alabama Power (oh-so-patiently) points out the obvious: “Alabama Power customers are only charged for electricity they use; it’s not like cable television service, where you pay a flat, monthly fee whether you watch the cable channels or not. Therefore, if your power is out, you will not be charged for it.”
What they’re totally thinking is:
While we can’t accurately charge you for power consumed during your outage period, we do request that you submit a report of your battery and generator usage so that we can bill you appropriately for alternative power sources.
Thank you, Alabama Power, for my restored electricity, my restored sanity, and your fabulously entertaining FAQs. You kept me alive with them during my darkest hours, and for that I am eternally grateful.