At first we didn’t really worry too much about the load shedding, using the 2 hours of downtime to do some of the cooler things in life – going for a run, taking the dogs for a walk on the beach or going for a surf. We all know that having a break from a hectic day’s work can be a great motivator and it refreshes the brain and can result in increased productivity.
It took a little while, however, for us to realize that it wasn’t working as well as we planned. While we were being prudent and unemotional about a challenging situation, both my wife and I started realizing the consequences of missing two vital hours of work time. My wife, who owns a travel company, started experiencing missed bookings, international payments not going through and the subsequent cancellations of tickets and a few other such dramas that come with working in a real-time booking system. Every mistake or glitch in her system was resulting in redoing the work, and incredible amounts of wasted time and productivity.
I was finding that I was missing deadlines, and while reporting on international events via live webcasting, I was missing crucial moments, finals, prize-giving speeches and other such vital bits in my reports. While it was always possible for me to wade through hours of recorded footage, the time it was taking me after the fact was ridiculously out of whack with the processes of real time reporting off a different timeline.
Things had to change.
Running two businesses from home simply meant that every little bit of work missed was resulting in less income. Not ideal when you have a healthy bond and two healthy young kids who need their school fees paid, their bellies fed, and hot water to keep them clean after sweaty afternoons on the sports field. Not to mention the early evening black outs that were disturbing their sleep patterns, that were messing with their circadian rhythms. Little kids like routines. It makes them feel comfortable. With their routines messed up they started waking up in the night, walking through to our bedroom, screaming and crying and wanting milk and teddy bears and star blankies and mommy. It was affecting mommy, who needs her sleep, and it was affecting our relationship and our abilities to remain chilled under all circumstances. Tempers were sometimes close to fraying, and stress was in the air. The dogs started sensing it, and as a result starting weeing on the carpet.
The cost of setting up a backup battery system seemed too expensive, and a little over the top for our little household. I investigated the generator game. Our little neighbourhood had already turned into a noisy, throbbing and smelly little zone, but I thought that if everyone was going to ruin the stillness, then I might as well join in.
I soon changed my mind. Everyone around us, who had installed generators eventually starting whining like two-stroke engines. The generator noise was just too much to bear. They used so much juice that the economics were out of balance, and a generator that runs out of fuel and cuts out has its own bunch of problems in the refueling and restarting processes. It was time to do some homework.
The obvious solution was solar, but the cost outlay still seemed too much. We weren’t going to set up giant wind turbines on our roof or in our garden, as we would then be more ostracized than the households with generators. . I needed to find the answer for myself.
One day I awoke to a dark house, the alarm off, and my six-year-old crying because he couldn’t turn on the light in the toilet. My wife lay there in the dark, muttering something under her breath. I couldn’t find the torch, and went to help my boy with the light from my iPhone.
‘This has to change,’ I thought to myself. ‘Whatever the cost may be. Even if we have to make sacrifices, like not drinking wine for a while.’