My sister and I are staying in Menlo Park, California, for a holiday, right next to Stanford University. Menlo Park is one of the satellite communities of Silicon Valley. Jonathan and I began our family 22 years ago here, producing the first of two girls who are now too busy with university to travel with us. So’s Jonathan, at the moment–he’s still in Berkeley. But Menlo Park has gone from student apartments and little granny flats to renovated little granny flats that cost over a million dollars. Netscape got its start here (remember Netscape?). So did we.
But back to today. We got up intending to go to the nearest Hobee’s for breakfast because Hobee’s has the Stanford Cardinal omelet (cheese, artichokes and tomatillo sauce) and the famous Hobee’s blueberry coffee cake. But when we got there, the waiter told us the place was closing because the power was out, “because of the plane crash.” We had no idea what he was talking about. As we went on with our day it was clear that electrical power was out from Palo Alto south to San Antonio Expressway. The plane crash turned out to be that of a small corporate plane that somehow hit a power grid and went down in East Palo Alto. Even later we discovered through online news that the people on it worked for Tesla, the maker of the world’s niftiest plug-in hybrid cars, with a showroom right next to us here in Menlo Park. Rumor has it that people like Steve Jobs and Tom Hanks like their Tesla’s, and everyone else gets on a waiting list that lasts a year to buy one.
It must be a terrible day next door, made worse by the sounds out their front door of the honks and yells of irate car drivers, trying to go north or south on the El Camino without functioning traffic lights. A six-lane highway, essential, the El Camino was today supposed to function with stop-and-go courtesy driving. As far as I could tell (and I drove the whole route) not a single police officer was dispatched to help with the traffic flow, so the potential for accidents at every intersection was pretty high.
But we will go to Hobee’s for breakfast tomorrow. And we’re lucky enough to be here. It takes a lot to remind the high-flyers of Silicon Valley that they are mortal. I’m not even sure this did it.