‘Good old days’? No thanks

Published 11:39 pm Friday, August 26, 2011

Most memorable about my one-sided battle with Hurricane Katrina six years ago are the moments of profound appreciation for the technology I’d previously taken for granted.

The many readers who endured the aftermath of Isabel can relate.

You instinctively reach for a light switch, forgetting that nothing will happen when you flip it. What were you thinking?

You pick up the remote control to get the latest news on the storm. Oops. Not happening.

You manage to boot up your battery-powered laptop, but there’s no Internet connection — nothing to browse beyond the contents of your hard drive.

For those of us in Katrina’s path, the clincher was the loss of cell-phone service. Life gets very lonely when your only communication is with the handful of people in your physical presence, no matter how much you love them.

If you have loved ones spread around Western Tidewater, here’s a tip I wish someone had given me before Katrina. In the event that both landlines and cell phones stop working during Hurricane Irene this weekend, designate a place and time — at least a couple of hours after the brunt of the storm has passed — for those in your tight circle of family and friends to physically meet. Impassable roads will keep some from making it, but others will get there. From such a gathering, much comfort is derived.

The hours of uncertainty — the inability to communicate one’s well-being to others and to receive the same from those you love — are gut-wrenching.

My Katrina-sponsored taste of 19th-century living — no electricity, no telephones, no running water — will linger for a lifetime. I care not for another bite.

Courtesy of Parker and Melissa Darden came recently a link to a story on the 109th anniversary of air-conditioning — that wonderful and surely divinely inspired invention that makes a 100-degree July day tolerable.

“It is hard to imagine life without it,” the author wrote about Dr. Willis H. Carrier’s creation in 1902. Hard indeed.

Some still pine for the “good old days.” I take the point – that simpler is sometimes better — but I make no apologies for modern conveniences.

I enjoy them now as I type this column — and hope Irene doesn’t take them away, even briefly.