How would we manage with no electricity in this summer Georgia heat?
The man from Georgia Power climbed out of his truck and walked up to the utility pole. He fiddled with our electric meter for a few moments, and just like that, turned off our electricity. I watched it all from the doorstep of our old, singlewide trailer, feeling like my faith had been switched off too. For days I’d prayed for something, anything, to help us pay our bill before this happened. It hadn’t mattered.
I was a single parent with three kids, unemployed after I returned from a stint in the Army, and money had been tight. Our electric bill was only so sky-high in the first place because of the sweltering summer heat. Now we couldn’t even turn on a fan. With the gas stove, we could continue to cook—but forget about keeping food in the fridge. How would the kids and I get by?
The power company truck drove away. I went back inside, a sinking feeling in my gut. I opened the fridge to see what had to be thrown out before everything spoiled. The light flickered on. Huh? The fridge was still humming. Stunned, I popped two slices of bread into the toaster and pressed the button down. Minutes later, they popped up, golden-brown. The electricity is still on?
I ran through the trailer, testing every switch. Some lights lit up, some didn’t. The outlet that powered the A/C still worked. Somehow, a small trickle of electricity was still flowing. Had the utility guy made a mistake? If so, it would be discovered soon enough.
For the next two weeks, the power stayed on. Meanwhile, I found a new job, operating a pecan tree harvester. With enough money to pay our bill, I called Georgia Power. The same technician returned to switch the electricity back on. Feeling guilty, I came clean. “I have to be honest,” I said. “We’ve still had some power. I promise to pay off whatever the meter says we owe.”
He scratched his head. “Impossible. I pulled this meter and put in some plastic strips that prevent any contact with the electric source.” He pulled out one of the strips to show me.
We both squinted at it. There were two tiny pinholes in the plastic, barely visible.
“Strange,” the technician said. “These holes must have let some electricity leak through. Not enough registered on this meter to even bother reporting.”
But it had been more than enough power for us.