Not long after the bailing incident, a powerful woman who lives with me wrote a scathing letter to the Public Service Commission, copying a raft of local politicians and the executives of a nearby power company. Every one of the politicians wrote back, promising decisive action against
"Yeah, hey listen. It's Louie. At the Public Service Commission."
"Oh, hi, thanks for calling."
"Waddaya need? Someone giving you grief?"
"Uhh, well, the power's been out a lot," my wife said. "Our sump pump shut down and the cellar flooded."
At this point, there was a pause. My wife heard Louie breathe out through his nose. Like maybe he was containing some anger. He spoke.
"Dese guys think they can mess."
"I -- I'm sorry, I don't under--"
"No, I'm sorry, ma'am. You shouldn't even have to call me. This was who, Central Hudson?"
"We talked to dese guys last time. It's like they don't even listen. It's like they got some kinda WAX--" and here my wife later told me she heard a side-of-beeflike palm slam down on a formica tabletop -- "in their ears."
"Yes," my wife said. "Well."
"Don't worry about nothing. Your power? On. It goes out again, you give me a call -- I tell you what, you give me a call if a single freakin' lightbulb burns out, okay? We get a guy to change it, and if he ain't there in five minutes with a yellow light flashing on his Central Hudson van, you call me again and then if you have to call me again after that you're gonna have a new power company, because they ain't gonna have any thumbs left at Central Hudson to answer the phones with."
I don't know, it was something like that. Let's just say that the power company called as soon as she hung up. They gave us a little plastic box that plugs into the wall and into the phone line. It's supposed to automatically report power failures, and we haven't had one since.
Sometimes, late at night, we hear the box mistakenly dialing in to the central computer, Tat-tat-tat. Tat-tat-tat-tat-tat. Tat-tat-tat. And we think of the PSC, and how somewhere a