The night the lights went out in the South Loop

The night the lights went out in the South Loop
Photo/Chicago Tribune

Last Friday night a townhouse complex just steps from my house had to have some repair work done by ComEd.  Something about "electrical infrastructure," "bad switch gears" and "transformers."

The residents of that complex were told that the electrical power to each of their homes would be cut off overnight and into Saturday morning.

I felt sorry for a friend of mine who lives in one of the homes.  What about your electronics?  Your clocks?  Will your water work?  Your phone?  Can you flush your toilet?  What if you get up in the middle of the night? Will you have any light to lead your way to the bathroom?

I badgered her with every question I could think of.  I mean, how many times are we told the electricity will be turned off for hours in the middle of the night?  Generally, if the electricity goes out, it just happens and you deal with it.  But how does one prepare for it? I wondered.

She didn't know the answer to anything I asked.  And she went to bed shortly before the electricity was cut off, sometime between 11 PM and midnight.

Best night's sleep she had in a long time, she told me the next day.  Nothing terrible happened.  Everything was dark, quiet, peaceful and she slept great.

Over at my house, on Friday some time after 11 PM, an eerie darkness suddenly settled upon my house, too.  Not inside my house--the house I live in at Roosevelt and State didn't need any ComEd repairs.  But outside.  Not only was there no light emanating from my friend's complex--other than a white work light off in the distance that the workers were using to perform the repairs--but as it turned out, all the lights on the Roosevelt Road bridge had to be turned out for the work to be performed.

And I live adjacent to the bridge.

For all practical purposes, when I turned out the lights in my house to go to sleep, my house was completely dark.  As dark as it's ever been in 21 years!

And I, too, had the best night's sleep I've had in a long, long time!

Which begs the question.  Why that night did both of us--and maybe others, too, who knows?--have the best night's sleep we've had in years?

Could the street lights outside our windows be interfering with a good night's rest?  I always thought my house was more than sufficiently dark at night when I went to bed.  But now I wonder if that's true.  Could light pollution be interfering on a nightly basis?

Ironically, last week I finally decided to call my alderman to complain about 20 of the scores of globes on the Roosevelt Road bridge being burnt out. The bridge is getting darker and darker, I whined, and it's dangerous and looks terrible, I said.  At this rate, the entire bridge is going to be burnt out.

Now I think maybe I spoke too soon.  Maybe that should happen. Maybe that should be the goal:  to let the lights on the whole bridge burn out.

Maybe the neighbors will get a chance to sleep like babies.

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