Gurney's Inn
August 08, 2007

Low Tidings

How To Handle LIPA Blackouts

We all know by now when there is a power blackout this time of year it is done deliberately by LIPA, and that's what is so annoying. Nor is it a coincidence it almost always occurs between 2 and 6, when usage is at its highest, presumably from air conditioners trying to beat down the 90-degree heat.

I love how they say, "Crews have been dispatched and we anticipate power being restored by six o'clock." Of course they do, because that's when they turn the switch back on. There are no "crews" — that's a myth.

I called to report my outage to the "Outage Hotline" Saturday. "You may say your answer or hit the numbers on the keyboard. Press or say one for English."

"One," I annunciated loudly.

"I'm sorry, I did not understand your reply. Connecting to a customer service representative." You know what's next . . . the guy with the manly voice.

"Due to heavy call volume there will be a wait of between two and fifteen thousand, eight hundred and seven minutes," he says with authority. "Remember, you can go online at and report an outage."

No I can't go online, you freaking moron, because I have no electricity.

That reminded me of the time I called the Dell Computer hotline to complain I couldn't get online. "You can go online to solve most problems," they told me.

If you ever do go to the LIPA website, go to the Outage Map and look at it carefully. It implies that by analyzing its massive grids the system recognizes areas without power. Wrong. The last time we lost power I called up and reported it. About five minutes later, a tiny dot appeared on the screen. It was me, even though the whole neighborhood was out. And that's why I always call it in.

Trying to live the life of conspicuous consumption but without the unlimited funds to truly eat like the slobbering filthy rich piglets that inhabit this hellhole during the summer, I buy a lot of food on sale and freeze it. For example, we have eight shell steaks courtesy of the King Kullen $4.99 per pound sale a few weeks back. We have King Crab legs from back when they were on sale. We have a couple bags of shrimp.

"Is this the number where the outage is being reported?" the voice asks about an hour later. I'm on my cell phone — because the other phone doesn't work without electricity. "NO," I say.

"I'm sorry. I did not understand your response. Connecting to a customer service representative . . ."

Then that other guy comes on again. "We are experiencing a larger than normal call volume, and we can't even handle our regular work load. Most of our customer service reps don't speak any English at all and will have no idea what you are talking about anyway. So you can stand there like an asshole with that ugly orange phone glued to your ear for the next hour or you can start grilling all them freaking steaks in the fridge because, buddy, they are melting."

Given we live in East Hampton, the replacement cost is astronomical. For example, when Citarella first opened, shell steaks were $24.99, and then they jacked them up to $29.99. That wasn't good enough for these pretentious New-Money maggots with their pink shorts and Ralph Lauren cucumber-colored shirts. They crave the Australian, no antibodies, steroid-free boneless talking shell steaks for fifty bucks. Ultimately, of course, Wagyu and Kobe beef for $125 a pound becomes the preferred meat to barbecue the piss out of. I don't know about you but I wouldn't pay $125 for Kobe Bryant.

Oh, I guess we could tone down what we serve at dinner, eat more frugally, have leftovers once in a while. But my god man, we are not savages.

Karen was giving me that `I told you so look.' She had run around the entire house the other day, filling buckets of water, filling up two bathtubs, stashing water in every pot and pan.

I, relying on assurances from LIPA, told her we had plenty of reserve electricity and there weren't going to be blackouts. "At least we have enough water to fill the toilets," she said smugly.

"Yes," I pointed out, "because we have 56,000 gallons in the swimming pool."

LIPA, by the way, recently jumped into bed with Broadwater, the proposed floating liquid gas facility that would mean the end of Long Island Sound and threaten the entire bay system between the two forks. Broadwater PR weasels, since they arrived on the scene, have been implicitly implying that to side with them would mean financial benefits down the road. When you hear a politician, or a municipality, or a business, or a newspaper, or LIPA come out in favor of this monstrosity rest assured they are selling you down the river. LIPA is becoming more like LILCO every day and chairman Richard Kessel has the moral fiber of a diseased gerbil. Do not trust that rodent.

I don't mind blackouts, but they are unacceptable here in the Hamptons because of our lifestyles. Not only do we risk defrosting the steaks, we might have to do without frozen margaritas and chilled martinis and stuff like that. Plus, we might actually start sweating from the heat.

I think they should just keep the electricity off in poorer towns for twice as long. Hey, the way I figure if you're lucky enough not to have any food in the refrigerator, if you are too poor to afford an air conditioner, then you are a perfect candidate for the LIPA Double Blackout Program, which offers neat incentives like free bread crumbs and hula hoops and stuff.

That's a Win-Win situation, folks.

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