Anyone who knows me, knows that winter is not my favorite time of year. Many of you may wonder why I would choose to move back to Maine, or even more, how I grew up in Maine and then lived in Colorado for 20 years, and not like winter, but the fact remains winter is my least favorite season. I have been told living on the coast of Maine results in us having less snowfall than the rest of the state, which I will admit was a huge plus in my book.
What I was not told, however, was that thanks to our lovely coastal breezes, we do experience coastal gales that seem to wreak more havoc than snow.
When I first moved here and spent some time wandering the neighborhood and exploring with my faithful four legged companions, I started to notice that a large majority of my neighbors up and down the street had generators attached to their houses. I decided some investigative research might be in order, and decided to start polling my neighbors.
Sure enough, the resounding results of this survey was that Yes!! a generator was a must living here. Not only did the coastal gales knock out power on a regular enough basis, but evidently when power did go out, we were also low on the priority list for getting that power restored, living way down here on our peninsula and all.
I have never had (or needed) a generator before, but I decided to embrace coastal living and call in the experts. I connected with an electrician, scoped out the perfect generator to meet all my electricity needs, and put in my order.
Back in June.
I was told the generator would be delivered by mid August and installed by the end of that month, in plenty of time for gale season.
But this is 2020. So of course that didn’t happen.
When I still hadn’t heard anything from my electrician by the last week of August, I decided to reach out. He replied that he was going to be off the following week for Labor Day, but they could come out to get the work done the week following. Great!
The Monday after Labor Day I reach out again to find out when I might be on their schedule for that week. I am told Wednesday at 9am.
Wednesday at 9am arrives, but my electrician and my generator do not. Nor have they arrived by 11am. So I take to text again, with a patient inquiry about when they might be popping by. I am told by 1pm.
I know you know that if I am writing this, this is not what happened.
1pm comes and goes, and after yet another text to try to figure out what is going on, I am told that “Oops! I thought you were another customer, and we are now at their house doing their work, and so sorry, but we won’t make it to you today after all.”
Let’s just say the next few texts weren’t exactly patient inquiries, but we finally come around to the idea that they will be at my house the following Monday afternoon at 1:30.
This time, wonders of wonders, 1:30 actually brings electricians to my door. I also had some work they were going to do in my barn at the same time, so he says they’ll start with that, to which I reply “Great, and then we can talk about where you want to put the generator.”
“Oh, we don’t have your generator” is what I get in response.
I give him my signature blink, and say “I thought that was why you came out today”
“We have no idea when we are going to get the generator. The factories are completely backed up due to COVID and just can’t make them fast enough, so they have no idea when they are going to have any to ship out”
Is it just me, or does anyone else feel like there might be a small lack of communication occurring here?
He goes on to say, “We are telling all our customers they can cancel their orders and get their money back, but you aren’t going to be able to find any anywhere else either. Or you can continue to wait. Right now they are saying hopefully mid October”
I decide I don’t have much choice but to wait, but you can believe I jumped on the phone trying to find anyplace that might have a generator hidden in their back room or a better time line to report, but of course I didn’t .
Fast forward to mid October, when I am again told, nope, no generator. Now maybe end of December, but who knows. This time he throws in the extra caveat that they are offering free hook ups on portable generators to all their customers if they choose to go that route. But I might want to get on that ASAP if I wanted one, because the first big storm that knocked out power and those would all be gone too.
So now I find myself shopping for yet another generator.
I find one that gets great reviews, is big enough to handle all my devices and gets a thumbs up from the electrician, so I order it.
It ships the next day and is supposed to arrive the following Wednesday. My electrician is on standby to install it on Thursday, and I will be ready for all the gales the coast wants to send my way!
On Tuesday I get the tracking notice that my generator has arrived in Portland, and is on track to be delivered the following day.
Again, Wednesday comes, but does not bring my generator with it. Nor does Thursday.
You all know by now, that I did not just take this lying down.
By Friday I had talked to at least 5 different people at each of the freight delivery company that got it to Portland, the “Last Mile” delivery company that was supposed to get it from Portland to my house, and HomeDepot corporate offices. I had reached high level managers at each company, had their direct cell numbers, and had all of them calling each other to figure out what was going on with my generator.
Home Depot had a local store associate who was going to pick it up and drive it to me. The “last mile” delivery manager physically drove to the freight dock, saw my generator, tried to pick it up to ensure it was put on their truck the next day.
And still, my generator sat on a loading dock 45 min away from my house for a week.
The freight company finally guarantees the last mile company they’ll have it to them “first thing in the morning” on the Thursday before Thanksgiving, and the last mile company guarantees me they’ll have it to me by end of day.
The generator arrives at the Last Mile at 2pm- (Can I just pause to say the reason the freight company is so backed up might be because they consider 2pm “first thing in the morning”??) – but they come through and still get it to me by end of day. Whew!
Now to get the thing installed.
Through all this, I’ve been talking with my electrician and he has assured me they would have me up and running by Thanksgiving if it arrives by the end of the week. I let him know I have it, and he says they’ll be there Monday or Tuesday.
Again, I know I don’t need to spell it out for you…. Thanksgiving comes and my generator is still sitting in it’s box outside my front door.
And we lose power the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
I have now purchased 2 generators, and still spend 17 hours without power or water or heat.
My less and less patient texts finally secure an appointment for the install the following Monday.
I really wish I could say that was the end of the story.
They do show up to do the install, but as soon as he takes the generator out of the box, he turns to me and says “Do you have the cord?”
Because of course. Why would the generator actually come with the cord?
I make a flying run to town to buy literally the last generator cord in stock anywhere in town, get back just as they are finishing the install, get my tutorial on what breaker to throw and button to push when and in what order, and finally have a working generator.
Just in time to lose power again 7 hours later.
I am out in the pouring rain, gusting winds and pitch dark with two flashlights that I can’t get to work, trying to hold my iPhone in my mouth so I can see to get the “cord sold separately” plugged in so I can start the thing, but of course this isn’t a typical cord, and I’m a generator newbie, and I cannot figure out how to plug it in. I am stuck at step one.
After an “I don’t think the cord fits” text to my electrician and a desperate FaceTime call with my dad, I finally get it plugged in, get it started and survive the remainder of the 27 hour outage with all the modern comforts.
And thanks to another 24 hours without power 3 days later, I am now a seasoned generator owner and operator.
Maybe someday I’ll actually get my original generator too…
*Ralph Waldo Emerson