By Robert Lalah
Well, we've been hit by another hurricane and, of course, this means many of us are still sitting in darkness.
If you weren't flooded out of your home and your roof stayed in place, then the near-islandwide blackout is perhaps the most vexing part of Sandy's visit. It's on everyone's lips too. Greetings these days are followed up with the obligatory, "yuh have light?" inquiry and tips are being shared all over for the best way to heat an electric iron on the stove.
We've been down this road many times before, but it doesn't seem to be getting any easier. And people are certainly not getting any more patient.
Where electricity is concerned at the moment, society is divided into the haves and the have-nots. And the have-nots are getting restless. News reports started featuring ticked-off residents demanding that power be restored to their homes as early as Wednesday night, even as the back end of Sandy lingered over parts of the island.
The Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS), which wasn't a favourite among the people to begin with, is getting a lot of heat from those who think the company's response to the category one hurricane has been slow.
As soon as JPS workmen are spotted in a community, word spreads like wildfire and those who are close enough to where the work is taking place will be sure to go up to the crew to ask how long it will be before all this pole climbing and wire fiddling pays off in them getting power back.
hard for jps workers
It can't be an easy time for JPS staff. They immediately become the most popular, or the most unpopular people in the room. I imagine anyone who works with the company is being flooded with calls from distant cousins and one-time acquaintances trying to get an inside handle on when power will be restored to their communities. It must be hard to explain that being an intern in the mail room at JPS doesn't exactly get you access to classified information.
Then, on the opposite side of the spectrum, workmen spotted sitting idle, perhaps taking a lunch break or resting their weary legs, are chastised for being lazy, good for nothing this-and-thats. Community members become the workmen's supervisors and nothing but excellence will be tolerated.
CEO of JPS, Kelly Tomblin, has been appealing for patience, trying to remind people that the workmen need breaks too.
"Please understand that I have to allow my crews to rest, but they have been working very long hours because they know how important it is to get everyone back on the grid as quickly as possible," she said in a Gleaner interview.
A solid point, this. Unfortunately, it's likely to mean little to those who, since Wednesday, have been rocking the crushed linen and jeans look to work. Or the family of four going through nervous times, eyeing all that meat in the freezer with trepidation, checking it's status twice per day but trying to do this quickly so as not to leave the freezer door open too long. The thought of all that cow foot and oxtail going to waste is a heavy burden to bear.
At the end of the day, however, even though it's hard, we really should try to be patient. I'm sure the JPS is as eager to get this episode behind them as we are. Plus, the workmen we see on the roads are just doing their jobs. Having to fend off abuse from passers-by isn't going to speed things up.
It's tough having to charge our smartphones at the office and missing the latest episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians , but all will be back to normal soon enough. Then we can get on with more pressing tasks, like switching off all the lights and unplugging all appliances so that our next JPS bill won't be a shocker.
Robert Lalah is assistant editor - features, and author of the popular 'Riving with Lalah. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com