Take Me Somewhere Else
Hurricane Irma is over. I don’t even think it’s a storm anywhere in the United States any longer. I’m not sure. Only because once it left my area here in Florida, I didn’t care where it went as long as it wasn’t here any more. In the past few days of no electricity, I’ve had tons of time to think of how the outcome and the wrath of Irma could have been better for the people of Florida. I’m doing the job our elected officials should have been doing. They’re so concerned with the aftermath they weren’t thinking of the beforemath. Or the duringmath.
TECO (the Tampa Electric Company) is one of the major electricity suppliers in Florida. I have been a manager (or leader) in a restaurant, a hotel, and an apartment complex. I’ve learned how to take care of the PEOPLE who utilize the services I represented. If I were the CEO of TECO I would have sent representatives of my electric company to the neighborhoods that were without power to answer any and all questions. While we sat here in the dark, we honestly had NO idea how long it was going to take to get our power back on. I heard “3 or 4 o’clock on Monday”. I heard “no later than Wednesday”. Then it changed to “It should be by Friday.” Then it jumped to “Sunday. Definitely by Sunday.” Why couldn’t there had been a knowledgeable person from the very company who had taken away our lights come to answer our questions? Wouldn’t they had been in the know? Lord knows they come out here to put notes on doors who owe them money. They have all the technology to scrutinize the numbers and look at the grids and give us a day/date. No one. Not one person from TECO stopped by here. They drove by. At one point we (my neighbors and I) counted 32 utility trucks whiz past our complex like a herd of elephants. I even jumped in my car and chased them down to get an answer. But not one of them would stop. I gave up chase after 5 miles. It wasn’t a complete loss. I got to soak up some air conditioning in the car as I was chasing them.
We also saw Spectrum vans driving around. Apparently they were repairing their cable lines at homes or local businesses that HAD power. My management brain kicked in. Spectrum could have pulled into our parking lot with their van and offered to charge any dead devices and offer free wi-fi for thirty or so minutes. They would have been heroes AND they could have pushed their product at the same time they were helping people. I’m sure Spectrum has more than one van. They could’ve sent out an entire fleet to the neighborhoods without power. Century Link, who has a good twenty vans in downtown Dade City, could have done the same thing. What great business sense that would have been to pull up, offer free wi-fi for a minute or two so people could check emails or send a text to a family member, and charge a cell phone or two. We got no cell phone service here. We tried. AT&T, T-Mobile, Metro PCS and others could not be reached. As a community, we stood in the parking lot with our phones in the air trying to get connected. It wasn’t working. But we saw Spectrum driving by. They would have been akin to Santa Claus if they had pulled in.
I joked about taco trucks and how I would pay a hundred dollars for a taco. The truth is…I don’t have a hundred dollars. But I would have paid $5 for a sloppy taco. Imagine the praise any sort of meal truck would have gotten if they pulled their truck up to neighborhoods without power to offer their hot food and cold drinks. When I was a kid growing up in Tampa this man would travel around on his bicycle selling deviled crabs. You could hear him constantly ringing his bicycle bell to let you know he was in the area. I’d run (RUN!) to my mother to get a dollar for two deviled crabs. I loved that man. Okay..I loved his deviled crabs. But I WAS always happy to see him. When I was a restaurant manager in downtown Tampa in the 90’s, there was this guy across the road from where I worked who had a cart making donuts. From scratch. You could watch the process and buy his donuts. I didn’t buy donuts anywhere else. Just from him. There was a Krispy Kreme maybe 3 miles up Kennedy Blvd. I never went there when all I had to do was get my donuts from that guy before I stepped in to work. That’s what this world needs…more “roach coaches”. I haven’t seen a hot dog man in ages. Cuban sandwiches would be great to. And all of these ideas could have pulled into an area with no electricity and become instantly rich. NOT because they raise their prices. No. They could sell tacos for $1 and still get rich because we – as a neighborhood without power – would have bought that truck out. America is lacking ingenuity in this respect. Grabbing a cup of coffee from a coffee truck and sitting in the park to sip said coffee would be a daily event IF someone would ever come up with this. The world seriously needs more taco trucks. The world needs more compassion. The world needs more explanation, less blame, and more community. There’s no freakin’ community.
That’s just me thinking in retrospect.
You know who DOES storm catastrophes right? Tide. They sent out trucks to heavily damaged areas of Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina to let people wash their clothes. This is how a company should love their consumers: