New Yorkers are tough. I on the other hand was born in New York and raised in California and all I can tell you is that I want to get the hell out of NYC. Today is day two in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. I had the luck of staying in the Chelsea area (sarcasm) of New York when the hurricane struck. To say that the area is in bad shape would be an accurate assessment.
I can’t tell you what’s being reported since I haven’t watched TV since the hurricane hit. I’ve talked to a few loved ones to get the basics. The call from United that I got this morning (it actually came in last night but until I went into an area that had cell coverage I had no idea the call came in) telling me my flight today was cancelled really hit me hard. One of the major airports in the New York area is open today but flights are not going out.
Just a few blocks away from where I’m staying a building completely lost its façade and a few blocks in the other direction the power station had a massive explosion which means I’m out of luck and have no power. South of 40th St is a mess with intermittent power in certain areas and there is a total black out in most other areas. Two days of no showers (just little bird baths), of no electricity and of no internet and cell reception in the apartment is starting to take its toll on me.
Building that lost its facade in Chelsea NYC
There is good news though; many parts of Manhattan do have power so I walked 10 blocks to the north to a Café where things are business as usual since they never lost power. This café was the first place I found yesterday when I was trying to charge my cell phone and connect to the outside world since thanks to AT&T I am unable to get data or cell phone service. My Verizon phone works just fine but it’s a Blackberry and well you know how great Blackberry’s are with surfing the net. They suck.
Day two brings me to the back of the restaurant where I am fortunate enough to find a power plug. It is just after 6 in the morning and the place is packed. I knew that if I waited any longer that the chances of finding an outlet would be slim to none. I tried last night and struck out. I have two cell phones and a computer to charge and my only option is to sit between a man who looks like he might be homeless and another one who looks like he might be insane but I figure there are plenty of people around and with very little charge on my iphone I saw very little choice in the matter.
As soon as I sat down the questionably homeless man (QHM) starts in right away with a statement, “You know I used to complain about going to work but now after three days I wish I could go back.” As I look over and he smiles the gunk on his teeth is so thick I would guess the last time he brushed them was probably decades ago, if ever. I tried to be nice to him but he starts babbling and flailing his arms around pointing to the paper. Every time I look away and try to focus on my computer he reaches over a taps my arm with his hand. He’s starting to annoy me and fortunately I get a call from a friend in Florida who starts giving me updates on what she’s watching on the news. This distraction is enough to focus the QHM’s attention to the person on the other side of him. As I talk on the phone there are people sharing tables all around me including my own.
I asked QHM where he got his paper from as he was babbling about Brooklyn and he said there was a news stand a few blocks away. Eventually he figured out that he didn’t have an audience with me and once his bagel and coffee were finished he got up and left to be replaced by a woman from Switzerland trying to get to Washington DC. Once the QHM left, the tall man dressed in an Ivy League t-shirt and sweatpants that was sitting on the other side of me, decided to start talking. His hair was gray and on the long side. His forehead was covered by some kind of bumps. It wasn’t acne but did look like a rash of some kind. I’ll call him John. John looked over at me and said if you watch my computer I’ll go get us newspapers. Get us newspapers? He said it as if we were there together but I thought sure why not. I want to read what’s going on. John returned and when I offered to give him money for the paper he refused to take it. He started telling me about his friends that live in Breezy Point. Breezy Point is where a house caught on fire during the hurricane and they lost over 110 homes according to the New York Daily News. I felt sorry for John and unlike QHM he didn’t have a foul odor or creepiness about him.
More and more people kept circulating in and out of the seats across from me and John started talking about conspiracies. He actually called them something else but I can’t remember what he called them. I am exhausted. I have no idea what he was talking about but he went on and on about the government and who he was going to vote for and why. John fascinated me. He had me take out a piece paper and write down names of movies to watch and books to read. I’ve come to the conclusion that either John knows a lot or is certifiably insane either way it really doesn’t matter. It was time for John to leave and before he walked out he wrote his email on a napkin and told me to email him. Both the napkin and the lists he gave me stayed behind in the restaurant.
As the tables kept turning over there were more and more people giving me suggestions on how to get back to Los Angeles. One suggestion was to take a bus to Philadelphia and then fly out. I called United and the airport was still closed. I also heard from my friend in Miami that parts of I-95 were damaged so it was better to stay put. The Swiss woman gave me the idea to fly out of Washington DC. When I called in the morning they said there should be flights out tomorrow from DC to LAX but I would have to get to DC first.
In the mean time I decided it was time to leave the cafe and take a walk. I’m ready to go home. Sure Hurricane Sandy has been horrible for me but I get to eventually go home. The lives of the people who live here have been changed forever. My heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones and have to rebuild. It’s not going to be easy but if anyone can do it, New Yorkers can. My thoughts and prayers are with you.