People were civil. The lamps were good looking - there were 12 models to choose from - all looking like they were fresh from Home Depot. The proctor said there were 8300 units available at this particular location in Torrance. We got there at 12pm. They were to close at 1pm, but as he walked down the line that stretched 400 yards, he assured that everyone would be served. If the news were otherwise in the hot sun, there would have been a minor riot.
We had our shopping carts and our old junk lamps, destined for the two large dumpsters. It was a cars for clunkers exchange in the market of home furnishings. Specifically, not only do you get the new compact flourescent bulbs, but a whole new lamp to put it in. And as an added bonus while you stand in line you get to read all of the propaganda interesting energy information from Edison. One of the bright orange signs informed me that on quart of ordinary motor oil can pollute 2 million gallons of fresh water. That's not permanent, because there are all sorts of ways oil is decomposed in water - but these are things only highly educated people know.
I hate crowds. For me, he only thing worse than being in a crowd of ordinary people is standing in line with a crowd of ordinary people trying to get something ordinary done. Whenever I find this happening to me, I am thankful for my audiobooks which I keep with me at all times. So I stood in line and occasionally chatted with the Spousal Unit and the First Daughter over the narration of The Diamond Age, a favorite book of mine with which I am renewing my acquaintance. I can be awfully Victorian. Interspersed with these thoughts as well of those of thirst was the entire theme of unemployment and breadlines of course. In the way that I case bars for the men I might have to fight, I looked at the crowd and imagined them all indigent in a post-catastrophic era. What would I be responsible for in such a situation. As the proctor reassured those of us beyond yard 300 from the entrance to the exchange's own line loops, I thought about the riot. I would have to ask for training. I'd find the military guys, and ask.
The First Daughter asked how Edison can afford to give this stuff away. My guess is that they are on the verge of being mandated to build new peaker plants, which would be a big capital expenditure, not to mention regulatory and political nightmare. So better to spend a million distributing tech that lowers power consumption in your customer base than spend a few tens of millions to build infrastructure.
Doc's theme is to return to where we never were, the Great Plains. How do you live off the land? How do you own land that you can live on? These are skills we don't have here in the great urban centers. None of us function well without electricity. We are practically slaves to it. And so we are the urban peasants, standing in line being given a new and cheaper way to be plugged into the grid owned and powered by Edison.