A sense of normality returns when you and your loved ones have power restored. The disaster recedes; the cans of Vienna sausage get moved to the back of the cabinet for Hurricane Jose and his successors; the #firstworldproblems, such as complaining about power restoration without the cable or internet returning, grows louder. Many of us — I include myself — were out of practice. The last time a major hurricane and South Florida shook hands the smartphone was a gleam in Steve Jobs’ eye, and unlike Wilma, Irma spun two hundred miles away. My parents had two generators, tested last week; they stopped working yesterday morning. I had a battery-operated radio, tested last week; it stopped working two hours before the power rent out on Sunday. No one in my building, including hardened Cubans, owned an appliance that wasn’t dependent on electricity. They sat in steaming, mephitic silence, presumably until the condo complex or relatives checked on them. A reminder, then, of how the comfort of technology becomes a noose.
Responsibilities don’t stop with the restoration of power. I spent the morning pouring water into Ziplock bags and freezing them for my parents, without ice and the generator’s welcome hum. Although the afternoons in the shade have been tolerable, I’ve seen what unlimited cans of Vienna sausage, the punishing Florida heat, and lukewarm Bud will do to a man in forty-eight hours. We need bars serving food and hair gel. We need people wearing shoes and shirts again.