This I Believe

Alice - Lynchburg, Virginia
Entered on September 10, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: community

I believe in power outages in public places.

The most recent one happened when I was at my local YMCA. A storm knocked out power to the entire building and in an instant everything went silent and dark. The treadmills all stopped, the TV’s were blank, there was no more overhead music, no more digital beeping.

For a few seconds everyone was quiet, then we began to unplug ourselves from our machines. Earphones came off and instead of staring straight ahead at Oprah we spoke to the people at our sides. It was only small talk asking What happened? A joke about how apparently that put an end to that workout. One woman said, “Thank you, God,” and practically skipped out the door.

The man on the treadmill to my immediate right, who looked like a professional runner was talking to an unlikely exercise partner, the elderly man on his right who had been struggling to keep a 3 mph pace.

On a very small-scale I find power outages in public places produce a similar feeling to the one I had on September 11th, 2001, when for a day we were all the same.

Without power none of us could carry on with our own business. Our only business was the dark and wondering if and when the lights might come on again.