Deep in the Woods

Mar 23, 2009

This was sent in by Jeff Moulter.

About twenty years ago, a young couple I knew, Throckmorton and his lovely wife Gretel, decided to escape the rat race and moved to a really remote area of Vermont.

About two weeks after they arrived at their little sylvan Shangri la, Gretel called her mother in Maine and told her that they were all settled in, and they just loved their new home, especially how out of the way it was.

Wouldn't you know it, the very next day the power went out. After two days with no well water or lights, the charm started to wear off a little bit. Winter had just begun in earnest and the daytime temperatures were well below freezing. So they decided to visit the aforementioned in-laws in Maine until the power was restored.

Now in the two weeks that they were in Vermont, they had not yet met any of the neighbors. And since so few people were affected, it was unlikely to be reported in the news when, and if, power had been restored. They were so new to the area, they didn't even know the name of the power company. The in-laws were far enough away that dropping by to check was obviously out of the question.

The question is, how would they know when power had been restored?

RAY: Here's the answer. It had to do with the telephone. As you know, many times when the power goes out, the phone does not go out. But the answering machine does because it's got no power.

TOM: Ohhh -

RAY: So when they called repeatedly and finally got the answering machine to say, 'Hi, this is Throck Morton and Gretel, we're not home,' whoop-de-doo! They knew the power was back on! Now, take in mind this was 20 years ago so they didn't have those modern kinds of answering machines, battery backup and all that.

TOM: Excellent.

RAY: Thank you. Do we have a winner?

TOM: The winner is Dan Adelman from Redmond, Washington. And for having his answer selected at random from among all the correct answers that we got, Dan is going to get a $26 gift certificate to the Shameless Commerce Division at, with which he can get a Car Talk endangered species T-shirt: The famous, famous Massachusetts grease monkey.

RAY: Congratulations, Dan!

Get the Car Talk Newsletter