As Jerry Seinfeld would say, “who are the wizards who thought this one up?” Yesterday, notices were posted at my apartment complex indicating that, this Saturday night/Sunday morning starting at midnight, Southern California Edison plans to shut off power in my neighborhood to perform “routine maintenance.” The posted message on my building owner’s letterhead, which may or may not have been from SCE talking points, states that “in an effort to minimize inconvenience, the testing will be done during night time hours, when the majority of our residents will be sleeping.”
Oh really? Asleep on a Saturday night at midnight? I can (and did) assure my building complex’s manager that the majority of us certainly will not be asleep. Rather, many of us will be engaged in a variety of activities (use your imagination) for which we will want to use our stereos, televisions, lights, or other electrical appliances. Many others will still be out, heading out, or soon to be on our way home, and will be entering and exiting the building during those hours, wanting to use the elevators (especially if the residents live on the upper floors of our high rise building). The notice mentioned nothing about the elevators, so those residents can’t assume that they will be working.
My manager’s response read, in part, “[a]s you can imagine, a utility company of SCE’s size has hundreds of thousands of customers and coordinates its outages based on very knowledgeable research and past experience.” If there isn’t a special category of logical fallacy known as “Assuming that People in Positions of Authority Know Exactly What They are Doing,” perhaps one can be created for that whopper. Or maybe my manager didn’t live in the United States during George W. Bush’s presidency.
Perhaps SCE has no choice as to when to perform this maintenance, or perhaps it does have data demonstrating (against common sense, it would seem) that doing so late on a Saturday night, as opposed to a week night, is somehow less disruptive to residents. But to place patently false “happy talk” in a notice to residents that says we won’t be inconvenienced because we’ll be asleep at midnight on Saturday night is, at best, clueless and insulting.