A Powerful Experience

Last week, I drove home to find a white truck in my driveway. I thought it must belong to one of my son’s friends. He’d come home from college that night to watch the Duke/Carolina game and spend the weekend with me. Unfortunately, I quickly learned that the truck didn’t belong to my son’s buddy, but rather to Duke Energy.

The Duke Energy guy was nice enough. “I’m here to cut off your power,” he said.

“Why?” I asked, stunned.

“Nonpayment,” he replied.

“What?!” I asked.

Then it all came back to me. I had ordered checks from my bank a couple of months earlier and never received them. (Thanks, BB&T.) Yes, I still use checks. (Get over it. I don’t give ANYONE access to my money). Then, I re-ordered checks which meant I had a month’s worth of bills still waiting to be paid.

In the interim, I had a power bill to pay. So I had gone online to pay it and must have inadvertently signed up for online billing. . .

Apparently I didn’t pay my bill for a couple of months. (Don’t judge me. Have you SEEN my inbox?)

But the Duke Energy guy was unmoved. “Sorry. I have to cut it off. You can call this number to get it reconnected, but there’s an after-5pm fee.”

“Can you hang out and reconnect it now, while I call?” I asked.

“Nope,” he said. “They’ll send someone in a little while.”

My son gave me the patronizing “Nice job, Mom” look. (If you’re like me, things like this never happen unless your kids are home to witness it). So I went inside to call the number as the Duke Energy guy drove away in his truck.

Half an hour and $450 later, I got it taken care of. There was a $75 reconnection fee, a $25 after-5pm fee and a $1.50 transaction fee. WOW!

The funny thing is, knowing I was going to pay the bill immediately, the Duke Energy guy had simply pulled down the street and waited. Then, while I was still on the phone, he knocked on my door and told my son he was going to go ahead and reconnect us. The power was back on before I got off the phone. (I probably could have even gotten away without paying all those fees).

But I was lucky.

Losing my power for that half-hour reminded me how lucky I am that I don’t normally have my power cut off. I was worried about missing a basketball game. But for many the stakes are exponentially higher.

I thought about how difficult it must be for the Duke Energy guy to have to turn the power off in homes filled with hungry children and unemployed parents. I can’t imagine how heartbreaking it is on winter nights when parents beg him not to leave them and their children in the cold.

I told my son to remember what a blessing it is to be able to pay your bills every month.

When the power came back on, my son turned on the TV and we watched our favorite basketball game of the season. It was a cozy 70 degrees in the house. Carolina beat Duke. And, for a moment, all was right with the world.

Still, I can’t help but think about those unfortunate families whose power was cut off and stayed off this winter. . . I think I’ll “Share the Warmth.”

How bout you?