Saturday, August 29, 2020

survived the outage, but it was frustrating

The temporary power outage in our building was scheduled to begin at 11:50 p.m. Friday night. It began at 12:05 a.m. Saturday morning. I dutifully shut off my A/C and my computer at around 11:45, relying on my cell phone, my GlocalMe portable Wi-Fi hot spot, and my rather wimpy portable power pack to keep me through the night. The outage was supposed to last until 7 a.m., and the moment my A/C shut off, my apartment began heating up. I was toying with the idea of taking a long walk out to the Jamshil Bridge and back, but such a walk would last no more than four hours, so I didn't want to go too early, then come back and suffer for several hours in a hot, humid apartment. So I waited, watching YouTube videos in my queue, all the while getting hotter and sweatier. I ran some cold water over a paper towel and wiped myself down several times, allowing the moisture to evaporate like sweat, cooling me off at least a little. I lay in bed as still as possible, conserving energy and trying my best not to heat myself up through movement.

By 2:45 a.m., I'd had enough. Using my phone's "lamp" setting, I illuminated my domicile, scrounged around for my clothes, then dressed up to go for a trek out to the Jamshil Bridge. Outside my apartment, the hallway lights were still on, albeit slightly dimmer than usual, and the elevators were still in operation (as per the announcement I had translated). I hit "1" and went down to the lobby level. I had checked the weather before leaving the building, and I saw that it was in the high 70s Fahrenheit (about 26℃), with winds at only 1 mph. Ugh. I hate walking in hot, humid, still air. It's suffocating.

The night was indeed hot, humid, and still. Every once in a while, a grudging breeze puffed past my face, but it was nothing sustained. (When a decent breeze did come by, I would thank the wind gods.) Despite it being nearly 3 a.m., plenty of night-owl bikers and old people were out and about, cranking or shambling away on their wheels or their feet. I lumbered heavily along, bandanna wrapped tightly around my large skull, my right hand covered in a fingertip-less biker's glove to protect my palm from abrasion as I swung my trekking pole like an old man's cane. My feet grumbled from various aches and pains, but I largely ignored them. Maybe three or four scattered, misty drops of precipitation hit my face, but as I noticed on my way back from the Jamshil Bridge's U-turn point, it never actually rained.

In a city of eleven million people, odds are that a lot of them—hundreds, if not thousands—will be walking the Han River bike path on a summer night (those odds go way down when the weather starts getting colder). I hadn't brought along any water, and I regretted that decision, but as I approached the Jamshil Bridge, I saw some water fountains and stopped by them to slake my thirst. It was a sweaty walk, and my mouth ended up feeling dry despite the water fountains' help. I know myself well enough, though, to know I can brute-force my way through certain kinds of discomfort. The prospect of real, honest-to-God dehydration is fairly remote, even for a sweaty guy like me, because I retain so much damn water that I'd have to be near death before I ran out of sweat. When I do the hike to Busan in a few weeks, the average temperature will be cooler (or at least, less warm), so I won't need much water as I march.

I was pretty pooped by the time I reached my neighborhood; I limped into a convenience store, bought drinks, walked across the street to the outer border of the park that sits by my apartment building, sat on a bench, and guzzled some fluids before getting tiredly to my feet and trudging the rest of the way to my apartment. By the time I got there, it was around 6:45 a.m. I had been gambling that, like last year, the repairs would have been completed an hour early, so I'd be able to stumble into my apartment and take for granted that I could benefit from my fan and my A/C.

Ha ha—what a fool I was! When I entered my place and stripped off my disgusting, sweat-soaked clothes and bandanna, I immediately noted that the power was out. A few minutes later, a bit after 7 a.m., an announcement in Korean came over my PA system (yes: my power was out, but the fucking PA system was still on line), saying that the repair work would need to go on for another hour. As per the rules of Korean politeness, the message ended with what could be literally translated as, "We give you inconvenience, so we're sorry" ("불편을 드려서 죄송합니다"), the Korean equivalent of "Sorry for the inconvenience." I sank back into my bed, resigned to endure the heat for another hour. Then, around 7:30 a.m., a second announcement came through: the repair crews would need yet another hour. I wasn't sure whether this meant "another hour after the first announced hour had expired," or "another hour, starting from right now." It ended up being the former, and the power came back on almost exactly at 9 a.m. I had endured a bit more than two hours inside my apartment, which had transformed from a little heaven to a little hell once the power had gone out.

When the power came back on, I was in a bit of a vengeful mood so, wanting to make up for lost time, I shamelessly cranked my A/C down two degrees cooler than I normally keep it (i.e., from 22 to 20℃). I blasted both of my electric fans (one small, one medium-sized), aiming them both at my bed, and then I tried to sleep. Alas, sleep didn't come easily, and I drifted in and out of consciousness. The end result was that I'd wake up, feel too tired to get out of bed, then lapse back into an uneasy slumber. Lather, rinse, repeat. This went on for several hours, and I didn't drag myself out of bed until midafternoon.

What a pain in the ass, and there's another power outage scheduled for next week. I think I might just find a motel and spend the night there, basking in the motel's air conditioning.


John Mac said...

What a nightmare. But the walk actually sounded kinda nice. Hard to imagine being on the bike path at 3:00 a.m. and seeing other people out there...especially old ones! It's hard to walk here at night because the streets just aren't well lit (or lit at all) and I'd worry about getting mugged as well.

The motel sounds like a great idea to me. I've done that during extended outages before and it was worth it. The owner of Treasure Island resort came up with a great idea...he's renting his rooms half price for the Sunday lockdown. You see, under the lockdown rules, registered guests can use the hotel facilities and partake in the food and beverages. He sold out these past two weekends. Sitting around the pool with ocean views, a good meal, and cold beer is not a bad way to spend your time under house arrest!

Kevin Kim said...

That's right: you have done the motel thing! Maybe that's where my inspiration is coming from.