The other day, Rhode Island experienced a storm that contained something called a macro burst. The damage caused by this storm had not been seen since — wait for it — 2011! Yes, this severe damage happened FOUR FUCKING YEARS AGO (There is no climate change…there is no climate change…). The power went out across town.
After the green skies and heavy winds had passed, I set out on my daily walk along the river, heading into Swankington’s finest neighborhoods. It was early, and my first thoughts were of relief, as no one else was out walking besides me, and it was rare to enjoy so much quiet. Then I turned the corner.
I walked past the first generator and scoffed because it was now this beautiful, warm (not hot), sunny day. Generators are the stuff of severe winter storms and black outs. Why now? Oh! I get it! You need AIR CONDITIONING and REFRIGERATION for HEALTH REASONS. Okay. Makes sense. And then I KEPT walking.
It wasn’t just a home here or there that had a generator. It was almost EVERY OTHER HOME. Now, if you have a picture of a generator in your head that looks like this…
… You’d be WRONG. This is SWANKington! The generators looked more like this…
These are PERMANENT generators. Make no mistake, when you walk past them, they are just as loud and obnoxious as the portable versions. But look how classy! Aluminum covers to hide the engine! No wheels. This generator will run you about $4,000.
THIS IS NOT NORMAL. Not only did every neighbor HAVE THE EXACT SAME ONE, but it was another one of those moments when Swankington failed to embrace the joy of life outside a fifth gin and tonic.
Power outages are about QUIET. They’re about getting off a fucking screen and doing a puzzle or playing a board game with your kids. They’re about building a fire or starting the grill so you can cook up the chicken legs in the fridge and eat them for lunch. Power outages are the great equalizer: A time when you and your neighbors come together because you’re sharing a traumatic experience.
But no more! Now Swankington has its power outage star-bellied Sneetches. Don’t worry! They’ll be more Sneetches getting their 4K “stars” in no time. And please, get me started on the fact that MANY of the residents buying these generators are the exact same people who DO NOT BELIEVE IN CLIMATE CHANGE, or — if they do — merely think that climate change is SOMETHING PEOPLE HAVE TO ADAPT TO!
Well, my adaptation strategy is to call ’em like I see ’em and when the worst thing that can happen during a power outage is that you throw out a bag of frozen peas or some hamburger meat (can be claimed on your home insurance policy!), then your swanky generator has gone the way of the big, black, luxury SUV; the 4-door Porsche and your all-white golf club: It’s just kinda douche-y.
Catherine Bardagy Winchild