Where were you when the power went out?

Ten years ago today, the power went out across the Northeast and Midwest US and across Ontario, Canada. Wikipedia tells me it was the second most widespread blackout in history at the time. It took two days for many people to get their power back.

Licks Hamburgers in Barrie

Licks Hamburgers in Barrie

I remember exactly where I was ten years ago when this happened. I’ll always remember, as it’s a reminder to me of where I’ve been in life and how much things have changed since then.

I was sitting in Licks Hamburgers in Barrie, Ontario. I had just moved permanently (I hoped) to Canada after graduating University, had zero money in the bank and was working a door-to-door sales job to pay the rent of my windowless basement apartment in Thornhill. 14 hours a day, often 7 days a week – rain or shine. 100% commission – if I didn’t sell anything, I made nothing. That day I was selling Domino’s Pizza coupons in Barrie. It was steaming hot outside, and I was wearing a full suit and tie.

To be completely honest, it was right in the middle of one of the worst periods of my life.

I remember that as soon as the power went out, the restaurant manager kicked everyone out of the store for health and safety reasons. I spent the afternoon trying to sell pizza coupons to people who would ask me, “don’t you realize there’s a power outage?” My response would be, “well then you’re not missing anything on TV while you’re talking to me, are you?” As I remember, I made about $60 that day.

Two months later, I quit that job. Five months later, I got a temp gig in the Ontario Government – days before I was due to fly back to the UK because I was about to run out of money. I postponed my flight, and never took that return leg. I haven’t looked back since that day.

Feels like a lifetime ago. How things have changed. I guess I can feel pretty good about the last ten years.

Where were you when the power went out? What has changed for you since then?

  • patricecloutier

    My friend …I”m glad fate decided you’d stay in Canada …I can tell you that few people have had as much of an impact on my professional life than you. Opened me up to this thing called “social media” … revitalized a stalled career …so … many thanks …

  • patricecloutier Wow. Thanks so much for your comment, Patrice – I had no idea. Really appreciate you letting me know, and I’m glad I was able to help in my own small way.
    Also: It’s been too long, sir. We should catch up some time soon.

  • Joe Boughner

    My story isn’t as dramatic but I was much the same; working a part-time job and playing in a band while I delayed decisions on what to actually do with my life.  Had a better mindset about it though as I hadn’t jumped an ocean to do it and was pretty at peace with my decision to delay the onset of adulthood. Nevertheless, within a year I was on the path to where I am now, happily married and enjoying my career. Thanks for sharing, Dave.

  • jlukasavige

    I was an airline pilot and was flying from Boston to Greensboro, SC. I was over NYC and listening to traffic on the ground at LaGuardia. Airplanes were ready to go but couldn’t push back because of no power on the jetways. 
    How the times have changed.
    I no longer live my life on the road, instead, I’m home with my family most nights. I help award google grants advertising to nonprofits and have never been happier.
    Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Dave.

  • Joe Boughner Still a great story, Joe – thanks for sharing. Amazing how much things change, and how it just feels like it was overnight.

  • jlukasavige Yikes – how did that affect those of you who were already in the air?

  • jlukasavige

    davefleet Not at all. ATC has backup power so we weren’t affected.

  • teenaintoronto

    It gave us a chance to meet and get to now our neighbours :)http://www.teenaintoronto.com/2013/08/remembering-blackout-of-2003.html

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  • varct515

    Glad to know you’re getting back in your feet you must remember that every experience has its own lesson we must learn from it.

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  • NathanCSays

    @davefleet wow quite a story Dave.   Have the memories grown fond at all? 
    My brother did door-to-door sales for a bit out of University. He just sent me an email yesterday for his new role reporting to the CEO of a major CDN bank.  Small sample size, but great examples of how starting with a do-it-all for yourself job can motivate a person.  
    As for the blackout, I lived on a 14th floor apartment and I had to walk my bike up the stairs.  Then back down to buy up water from the convenience store who thankfully was NOT gouging people.

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