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Pleasantville Chapter 2

Posted by LOTGK on December 9, 2007

My journey and business in Tennessee had just begun, and I would need a rental car to complete my mission from the Knoxville airport to Gatlinburg, the foothills of the Smoky Mountains.

My fact finding tour went quite well in Gatlinburg and it was time to pack and go home the next morning. Since it was November, the Festival of Lights was in full swing. In Gatlinburg, the city transforms itself into a massive Christmas light Mecca as each city store and shop display millions of twinkling lights and Christmas ornaments. Every street corner and light has Christmas lights flashing and blinking. It must be a heavy strain on the power company at this time. Hence, part two of my story.

Wednesday evening finally arrived in Gatlinburg meaning that on Thursday afternoon, after the trade show ended, we could escape. We would have a good dinner, buy some chocolate and taffy at the candy sore, go pack to the hotel and pack for the next days departure. In a heartbeat, all bets were off. In the distance I began to hear a buzzing sound, almost like a whirring sound like an old style fire truck crank siren. The sound was emanating from down the street and getting closer. What the hell was that noise?

The answer came speeding by us a few seconds later. It really was an old fashioned fire truck right out of the Keystone Cops movies. Two firemen were riding on the back and one was riding on the side winding the crank that was making that awful noise. It was the Tennessee volunteer fire department racing to a fire.

Well, that was way to much excitement to stand o we headed on back to our rooms to pack. We almost made it to the parking deck when all at once the lights went out. Not just the parking deck lights, or street lights, but every single light in the city. It was so dark, I could not see my hand. Surrounded by the Smoky mountains, no light was entering from other sources. Not even the moon was out to shed some light.

It took us what normally would be a five minute walk to the hotel 30 plus minutes. It was a bonus that we had walked that path countless times and we were somewhat familiar with it. Needing to pack, I navigated my way to the hotel office and I was proud and happy that did not fall into the pool. The night deskman had the fireplace burning so there was light.

I asked him if he had a flashlight I could use so I could go back to my room and pack. He went into the back room and came out a moment later with a flashlight and handed it to me. I offered my thanks and was about to leave when he spoke saying that the flashlight wasn’t going to help me any. Yes, I had to ask why. He said because there weren’t any batteries in the flashlight! Southern hospitality indeed!

At least the clerk was helpful enough to inform us that a major fire destroyed one of the power stations causing a surge knocking out the rest in a domino effect leaving the city dark. Armed with this knowledge, I formulated a new plan. I made my way back to my room on the bottom floor and fished around the table for the car keys.

I opened the door to my hotel room and went to the car, pulled it up over the curb and pointed it to my door and shined the headlights into the room. I packed my suitcase and prepared for my departure. I parked the car and sat on the chair outside my door listening to the night mountain sounds of crickets, birds, and thousands of blaring car horns up on the parkway.

It was midnight and still the lights were not on, so I went to bed. Around four in the morning the power was restored. How did I know this? Well, when you leave the TV and the lights on and the power returns, it is a rude awakening. It scared the hell out of me. Jumping out of bed, I turned off the TV and the lights and settled back down to bed. The trip and nightmare was almost over.

That morning, we finished up at the show and were ready to leave when we heard the weather report back home in Cleveland.

Part Three Of Three Right Here

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