The luxuries of life seldom come to mind - Valerie Baldowski

I am convinced, we, as Americans, are thoroughly spoiled.

After church Sunday afternoon, I was out picking up a few items at the grocery store when I received a panicked call from my husband, reporting that we had no power.

I always think the worst in situations like that, namely, "Did we pay our electric bill this month? Are we late in paying? Did they cut off the electricity?"

I raced home without finishing the grocery shopping, because I was too distressed to finish. Besides, it would have been pointless putting stuff in the refrigerator, if it wasn't even cold. I had visions of all the food in the freezer melting, and all the food in the 'fridge spoiling.

I called to report the power outage, and learned there were widespread outages throughout the area that day. Our electricity was back on a few hours later.

That got me to thinking how much we take for granted things many others don't have. It was chilly that day, and we are fortunate to have heat in our home, light at the flick of a switch, and as much running water as we want.

Indoor plumbing is a marvelous thing. You never think about how much you appreciate it, especially in the middle of the night, until it goes on the blink. I am glad I didn't live in the pioneer days, when there was no indoor plumbing, central heat or electric lights. I would have had a difficult time.

Some people like roughing it. They enjoy going camping, taking their sleeping bag and tent, and sleeping out under the stars. They wake up the next morning, build a campfire, and heat up coffee over the fire. That's not for me.

For one thing, I don't do well trying to sleep on the cold, hard ground. The only way I would find camping acceptable would be if I drove a camper to the campsite, plugged the main power cord into a socket on a tree, so I could have electricity, and slept in a bed -- with a mattress, pillow and blanket -- tucked away in a corner of the camper.

The next morning, I would roll out of bed, flip the switch on the coffee maker, and watch the news on the little portable TV in the camper. Those campers even have little bathrooms with showers, and places to plug in an electric hair dryer.

I'll admit, I'm as spoiled as the next person. I'm accustomed to pulling up to the ATM in my car, inserting a plastic card, hitting a few buttons, and voila, the machine spits out money. If it's out of order, well, it's an annoying inconvenience. We just drive down the road to the next ATM.

But we don't think twice anymore about what life was like before automatic teller machines. Parking the car and going into the bank to stand in line for the teller's window seems like such a hardship. I used to get my monthly bank statements via snail mail, but now they are conveniently e-mailed to me every month. When I think about the countless people who don't have computers, because they don't even have electricity or even a roof over their heads, it's almost a guilt trip. Many people in impoverished countries don't have those luxuries. As the saying goes, only in America.

Maybe, we're too dependent on technology. Look what happens when power goes out city-wide. Traffic lights don't work, and suddenly, nobody knows how to drive any more. Electric pumps at the gasoline station are down, and you see long lines of confused motorists, wondering where to gas up.

But, at least we have the convenient things that make life easier. So, I think I'll just count my blessings. Now, hand me that TV clicker, I want to watch the peach drop.

Valerie Baldowski covers government and politics for the Henry Daily Herald. She can be reached at vbaldowski@henryherald.com.