Today marks the first of what I hope will be many guest posts from some of my fellow recent grads living outside the bubble.
So if any of you readers out there have any thoughts, suggestions, or want to share your own “outside the bubble” story, let me know!
For today’s edition, I present the following account of a rude awakening to the real world outside the bubble (and I took the liberty of adding a few visual aids):
After graduating from college this past May, I started medical school earlier this month. I rented a house with three roommates, two of whom are classmates of mine. At first, everything seemed to be going well: my bedroom gradually transformed from an empty space into an IKEA showroom, I cultivated some unknown culinary skills, and the dirty dishes never piled up. But to my surprise, the road to post-grad life had a few bumps during that first two-week stretch.
Flash forward to this past Thursday. I am enjoying my sub sandwich outside the medical building during our lunch break, when my roommate comes over with some startling news. The electricity is off at our house, but all the other houses on the street still appear to have power.
Uh oh. My roommate doesn’t seem to be too concerned about the possibility of having our power shut off and says he will call the energy company after our afternoon classes. I am more unnerved at the prospect of living without power and suggest that we call right away. After a rather short phone call, my roommate discovers that the previous tenants had racked up a large debt with the power company.
Our fellow lunch mates overhear our conversation, but reassure us that it shouldn’t be an issue.
“You called the power company when you first moved in to let them know you’re the new tenants renting the house, right?”
“You’ve received and paid the energy bills since you moved in, right?”
Not exactly, not really…no.
No, we did not call the power company when we first moved in. In fact, we had never received a bill from the power company. “Oh,” say the lunch mates.
Oh. Oh, no. What were we thinking? That our house was powered by some magical fairy dust? It seemed that way when I was in college. Everything always worked in my dorm room and if it didn’t, I could call campus maintenance and it would get
fixed right away. There was never any need to inform the power plant on campus that I had moved into my dorm room; everything seemingly worked like magic. Not so anymore.
After lunch is over, I begin to think of the things that require power: lights, air conditioning, refrigerators. The refrigerator! I quickly send text messages to my roommates imploring that they do not open the refrigerator, because it would compromise the limited amount of cool air inside.
I receive two subsequent text messages from Eric, one of my roommates.
Text 1: The milk must be chugged
Text 2: It’s the only humane thing to do
I fear what the refrigerator is going to smell like once we open it.
I get back home in the late afternoon and immediately note the warm temperature of the house. I check a light switch, hoping that the power company could flip a switch and instantaneously turn it back on. No dice. The power company told us it would take 48 business hours to turn it back on. More like an eternity.
My roommate and I decide to go to Starbucks to study for our exam the following day, since we won’t be able to do much of anything without any working lights. Starbucks is a destination for many purposes: dates, business meetings, and coffee fixes, of course. Add power outage refuge to that list.
We pull two tables together and sprawl out our books and proceed to study, while charging the electronic devices that connect us to the outside world. My roommate is sipping a straight black coffee without the bells and whistles of a typical Starbucks concoction. It’s well into the evening and I forgo getting a cinnamon dolce latte, my regular drink of choice. Starbucks can be rather emasculating, but it’s all part of the experience. The jazz music and smell of coffee make for an atmosphere conducive to studying, masculinity be damned.
It’s been six days since the power was shut off and we’re still in the process of sorting everything out. I carry a flashlight by my side at all times and have developed the lifestyle of a nocturnal animal that can function in a dimly lit area.
I guess I’ll chalk it up to one of what I am sure will be many post grad learning experiences. Heed my words, fellow recent college grads: always call the power company when you move into a new place. There is no such thing as energy fairy dust.