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Patience is strained by powerless feeling

Pollyanna beware.

With a storm like the October Surprise, you will be reading story after story about the way the storm brought us together as families, as a street, as a community.

Anecdotes about neighbor helping neighbor will abound. It will be a post-storm era filled with heartwarming tales.

This will not be one of them.

This is being written by a cranky, cold, short-tempered resident of the Town of Tonawanda. No power since Thursday at 5. No hope of power on the horizon. A card-carrying member of "the remainder of Erie County that will have power restored by Sunday" club. Hey guys, your glib definition of "the remainder of Erie County" is pretty much all of Erie County. Do you think we do not know that?

You think folks are acting nice and polite because there is a crisis at hand? I guess the three people who cut me off at the gas station Saturday should be reported to their moms. Ditto for the people letting folks sit for 10 minutes when trying to make a left turn. Miss Manners definitely has yeoman's work to do in Western New York.

What about the folks out on the roads? When a light is out, it becomes a four-way stop. We all know that, right? Then who are all these folks hitting the gas when they pull up to a darkened intersection? Dante cannot have devised a dank enough place in hell for them.

And then there are the ones who have gotten power back. Smug is the only word that applies.

"Oh, you don't have power? Oh, dear! How awful! Ours came right back on a day later." If I commit an assault on one of these happy power hoarders, will I be convicted? Not if the judge was in the dark and cold for six days like me. Not a chance.

Irrational thoughts abound in my head. I see a restaurant with a sign out saying, "We have power and heat." I instantly vow never to eat there. I am convinced they are diverting my rightful power in some way. I admonish myself for thinking this way -- until my powerless sister says the exact same thing.

I have lived in Western New York most of my life and took on past crises as character building. I made my way from the Federal Building to a bar downtown in the Blizzard of '77. I scoffed at the seven feet of snow dumped on us a few years ago. But this was all false bravado.

Because one thing was constant in these challenges: power. We had power. We had TV, lights, heat. We had coffee in the pot, chili on the stove, clean laundry in the dresser. And hair dryers -- oh, I yearn for the whine of my hair dryer.

So, Carol from Cheektowaga, don't call the radio station and give me accounts of you and the rest of the Stepford clan happily playing marathon games of Chutes and Ladders.

The romance has long gone out of Danny's favorite subs and grill cooking. My brother-in-law shows me his hand, which has been permanently molded in the shape of a chain saw handle. Another limb falls and this time it hit the house. Yippee! Bring out the Chutes and Ladders!

Oh wait, the power just came back on. Oh dear, you don't have power yet? How awful.

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