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2003-08-15 11:00 AM
Yesterday, Thursday, August the 14th at 2:10 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, those in the northeast United States experienced the largest single power outtage in North American history. Here in Seattle, our computer system at work went down. (Our company is headquartered in Cleveland, along with the network server.) In New York city, displaced workers were wandering the streets of Manhattan, nervously glancing upwards with silent prayers on their lips.
There was something in the air, but it wasn't electricity.
The nation collectively held its breath. Here, at my work, we milled around instead of staring at the suddenly black cyclopean eye at our desks. As the outtage continued, portable radios were turned to AM news stations while the workers began to congregate around anyone with access to the news.
Then, something rather amazing happened. While we were all standing around, waiting to hear the worst possible news, a young lady at our office, an earpiece in her ear and her portable radio in her left hand, said, "UFO? Did they just say UFO?"
Somehow, someway, twenty people managed to crowd within a ten foot diamater circle surrounding this young lady. Mouths were hanging open. Not a single eye blinked.
Then, the young lady started laughing out loud. The collective sigh almost blew her hair back. I laughed my ass off.
But then, later, it really made me think. Normally, when someone says something that's completely out of the realm of possibility, when someone makes a comment so absurd that it borders on farce, people laugh. They groan. They roll their eyes and walk away.
That didn't happen. Our attention snapped to what she had said. No one said, "No way," or "Shut up!" or "Puh-lease." We were all waiting for more news of the mysterious spacecraft that had caused all this havoc.
Now maybe we didn't think it through as far as that. But we weren't incedulous, either. We bought it. Hook, line, sinker, rod and reel. I do believe that we were more ready to believe that explanation before we would have thought of a random lightning strike. We, as good a cross-section of Americans as you can possibly get, were ready to accept it.
Think about it.
Joseph Haines, signing off from The Edge of The Abyss.
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