This entry is referring to my experience this past Thursday, 08/14/03 – When the Blackout hits New York (and other cities in the East Coast). And believe me, this is a very long entry!
So, okay, I’m alive. I mean, how couldn’t I? I yam the mighty Wayne, nothing gets in my way, except a couple of blisters and sour shoulder. I mean, I can totally stayed over night on the streets, I endure hunger for at least 3 days (at least I think I can), I take a dump or pee behind the bushes under the public eyes – but when you are wearing a nice shit, dress shirt, carrying a business case and a laptop and wearing a pair of nice black dress shoes, you can’t just lay on the street and let the dirt ruin the over all professional package.
Anyway, on Thursday, I was soaking sticky wet. I never thought I’d end up feeling steamy hot this way.
Around 4:15 PM in the afternoon, I was working (I know, very rare) in front of my computer, eating Cape Cod ‘Sea Salt and Vinegar’ Potato Chips, had my shoes taken off, listening to mp3s from a CD I burnt at home… Shaking my leg a bit, typing and typing and typing… I was really working hard.
Then all of the sudden. My computer shut off. The lights went bye bye at the same time. And so did the printer.
“Crap. No music!”
Which, being a such good employee at the company, I should have screamed “Oh No! I really need to send in my work before the end of the day! Oh, what am I going to do?”
But seriously, I can careless. In a situation like this, who knows if this is another terrorist attack?
I stood up. Saw Patricia standing in her cubical.
“Shit. I’m getting out of here.” Then she started to lock up her drawer.
At that time, I realized that the light might not came back up for a while. So, I locked up my drawer (where store all my snacks) too. I looked around and saw people walking back and forth. Some laughed, some rushed to their desk and packing up, some just stood there aimlessly.
I turned my head, and saw Monica standing at the door way of her office.
Her right hand was holding the edge of the wall when she turned her head back and forth. Observing the situation.
“What about Monica?” Denise said to Daniel.
“We can’t just leave her here.” Replied Daniel.
“I will stay with her.” Said Denise.
“Me too.” Said Daniel.
“Same here.” Said David, who is probably the hottest guy here on our floor.
Monica is the 8 months pregnant lady who trained me about their department. Her office is located (Yes, my cubical is very close to the 8 directors that worked in the other department. And yes. David the hot guy is one of them. Gosh, he’s handsome, rich (good pay) and highly educated (law school). I’m still trying to figure out a good way to tranquilize him and totally make my fantasy come true. But anyway, I will continue with my saga.
I tossed the bag of chips aside and grabbed my suit jacket. I stuffed whatever important stuff in my business case (okay, its not a suit case. It is actually a Reaction bag). Which, was nothing. I didn’t put anything in my bag. I just zipped it up, and walked out of my cubical.
Evan: “Wayne, lets go lets go. Come on. Everyone. Go Go Go Go Go.”
They are rushing people out of the building.
Then I saw Maggie across the hall way.
She waved her arms. Pointing to the stair way.
I rushed toward the emergency exit, along with everyone else. The entire time, other than thinking about my bag of chips, I asked myself…”What about Monica?”
Then I ran into my sister.
“Time to go home.”
Step by step. We walked down to the first floor and out of exit. The street was packed with people. Everyone has cell phone in their hand.
“Wayne, try your cell phone. Mind didn’t work.”
And I tried.
My sister kept on redialing her cell phone. She was trying to reach her love birdy. Who, is suppose to meet us in the city.
We planned to have dinner in the city that day. At that Japanese karoke restaurant I mentioned in the previous entry. (Second on Second)
The she turned her head to me. “Call mom.”
Oh yeah. I totally didn’t realize that. She is suppose to call her boyfriend while I call mom. That’s right.
Maggie: “Well, let’s go. We can take the dollar van to Flushing, and from there, we can get a cab home.”
Which, that seems to be a good idea.
“What time did we scheduled to meet with him?” I asked my sister.
“Uh, now.” My sister replied.
“Do you think he will still stick with the plan and come pick us up?”
“I don’t know. Probably not.”
“I think he will. I mean, if I’m him, and I’m already in the city to meet up, why wouldn’t just stop by and see if we are waiting here?”
Then my sister started to think.
Maggie: “Well, I’m going to take off now. Good luck guys.”
We watch Maggie vanished in the crowd of people.
I guess at time, my sister decided to wait for her boyfriend.
So, after two hours of waiting. We still couldn’t make any calls… but we were able to send TEXT messages. Some text got sent, some bounced back.
Thanks to T-Mobile, my entire phone network was blocked. “Emergency Calls Only.” – Okay, Thank you, Catherine Zeta Jones. Even though I can’t call my parents or get any help, at least, I can at least call 911 and wait 40 minutes for the police men to get though mountain of people and traffic to our rescue if we are in trouble.
I shut the damn phone off.
The all of the sudden, my sister said.
“Let’s go. He’s at home.”
She got the text message sent from her boyfriend.
I have made the wrong decision, and made us waited 2 hours. We could have gone with Maggie, and her boyfriend will save us. Or, at least, stayed over at her apartment and wait for rescue.
We stood up and start walking with the crowd toward the Manhattan bridge. Since my sister was wearing her HIGH HEELS (she got pulled out of the conference room during the blackout, didn’t have the chance to put her tennis shoes on), I carry her laptop on my shoulder.
Under the red-heated sun, a bunch of us, like a bunch of ants, marching toward the other side of the shores.
It was so hot, I took off my tie and unbutton my shirt. I wrapped my suit jacket around my bag. We didn’t talk much on the bridge. We were saving our energy for the worst situation. I mean, we were heading to Brooklyn, and we didn’t know anything or anyone there. We couldn’t get in touch with the male love bird. The LIRR is down. The subway is down. The phone is dead. How exactly were we able to get back home in Long Island?
We kept walking.
My sister’s face shown the sign of pain. Her feet was in pain. The heels are killing her. I mean, she totally dressed up for the day. Her meeting, and the dinner date that was planned. She was wearing this very beautiful nicely-cut black business suit with shirt skirt and elegant black leather strapped heels. On her ears were the dark crystal blue earrings that she bought when we were on our trip in Paris. Around her neck, she wore the silver heart-shaved necklace that Dad gave her. She looked really pretty that day. I mean, very pretty.
But the pain got into her. Her eye brows was leaning toward the center. Her lips were stretched down-wards. As if the gravity is really pulling them down.
She was in pain.
“Are you okay?” Not sure what exactly I can do to help her. We are in the middle of the bridge, the stores were closed. I don’t have anything that she can wear. And it is obviously, that the ground is not in a good condition to walk with barefeet.
“Don’t worry about me. Just keep walking.”
Since I have taken my watch off my wrist, I had no clue how long it took us to reach Brooklyn. But we did. We got off the bridge. My shirt was soaked with sweat. I had no idea where to go.
Then my sister pulled out her phone and pressed some button.
“He is going to pick us up.”
“Where is that?”
Then we saw that the streets have been blocked by police cars. The traffic was horrible.
There was a group of people, gathering around in circle. We walked toward their direction.
Someone had opened the fire hydrant.
People were refilling their water bottle with the water. Then I saw my sister reached her hand at the opening.
She held a small amount of water in her hand and sends them to her lips.
She was thirsty. And I didn’t even realize that.
Then I saw a couple blocks down, there were people yelling…”Soda! Cold Soda!”
We quickly marched forward toward the Deli shop.
“We only have diet coke.”
“Okay, one dollar each.”
“Give me two.”
My sister bought two cans of Diet coke. She opened her up and start drinking. I put mine in my bag. (One funny thing about me, I don’t drink any water when my body temperature is all heated up. That is why I rarely drink anything when I’m exercising or dancing in a club.) I was saving the can of soda for the worst situation.
We follow the crowd, marching forward. My sister rested a several time during our walkathon, because her feet were in pain, the back of her ankles were bleeding. (The skin was rubbing against the back of her heels) I offered some Band-Aids, but she said those were no use, because they will get rubbed off as well.
The sky turned from red, to gray, and then dark. The night has hit Brooklyn, and we were walking in the darkness. There were no street lights. No signs. The only source of light we can rely on, was the car lights and those from the police vehicles.
We continued walking for approximately 30 more minutes, then we arrived at the Flatbush avenue. Where there’s the open traffic allow the cars to go in and out of the city.
We sat down.
I tried to call the male love bird using the paid phone, while she tried her AT&T mobile phone.
Then finally, she got though.
She said something over the phone. I can tell that the conversation she was having was rather unpleasant.
The she handed the phone to me.
“This is Wayne.”
“I can’t believe you guys did this. I told you guys to wait at Marriott. Why did you guys go to Flatbush? What are you guys doing? What are you guys thinking? I can’t believe in a situation like this, you guys want to mess the whole thing up."
And he blahs on.
“Now you have three choices. One is, You guys wait for me, and I will drive there to pick you guys up, which, will take me 30 minutes to get to my car and then probably an hour more to get to you. I have no idea where you are, okay? Second, I will walk 40 minutes over and find you guys and we all walk back. Third, which is I think the best way, is you two walk back and meet me at Marriott lobby.”
From the look of my sister’s face. I can tell that she couldn’t walk anymore. Her facial expression was telling me that she is about to cried. She really expected her boyfriend would come and pick us up.
We never knew that the boyfriend would park some where else and walked to Marriott. We’ve thought that the boyfriend was going to DRIVE to Marriott and pick us up there. Which, my sister decided to wait at a location where cars can come in and out.
“Okay, we will meet you at Marriott lobby.”
“Damn it. I can’t believe you guys would think this way. When I say I meet you guys at Marriott, you guys should just listen and do what I say. Maybe your sister is not as smart as I think she is. I am so disappointed in her.”
“I said, We will meet you at Marriott.”
“I have already told her, to meet me at Marriott no matter what. And…”
“I said we will meet you at Marriott!”
Then I hang up the phone.
I checked with my sister and told her that we should walk back.
She nodded her head and stood up.
Step by step. We walked back toward the Manhattan bridge.
She was walking as if she has a broken leg. Her body lean toward the right and back toward the left with every step. She was walking slower and slower then before.
I walked in front of my sister, to block the people rushing toward our direction. There were people bumped into me, and there were objects that I knocked out of my way. The trip back to the bridge was harder. We were both low with energy level, and the street was really dark.
People on the sidewalk were getting rude and weird.
There were a couple of drunk guys whistling at my sister.
“We are almost there.”
I asked for direction to Marriott and she asked for direction to Marriott.
It may seems like an endless journey, though the dark alley, passing though the purple sparkling flares, drunk men, and clouds of sweat vapor.
But eventually, we made it to the hotel. The lobby were filled with people. Sitting on the ground. Some were napping, some just sitting there looking out of the window.
My sister sat on the edge of the man-made garden, leaning her shoulder against the wall.
The male love bird came down from the second floor, carrying 3 cups of iced water.
I drank it all.
She held her hand out and squeezed his arm gently and then leaned back against the wall.
The male love bird said that he parked the car at a very bad neighborhood (40 minutes of walking) and it would be a bad idea for my sister to walk there. Especially at her current condition. We decided that she stayed inside of the lobby, where she will be safe, while we speed-walking out and get the car.
Before we took off, he turned to me.
“You might want to take your shirt off. And leave all your important and expensive stuff with your sister.”
Okay, I get the idea. Bad neighborhood. Ghetto.
I pull off my dress shirt, left my wallet, watch with my sister. I was only wearing my shoes, black pants and white tank top. (Some call it the wife-beater)
The tactic was, that I need to look thuggish.
The male love bird and I dashed out of the lobby and into the darkness.
I have never ran in the dark wearing only a white tank top.
In my head, the Wonder Woman theme song popped in my head.
Thug Woman, Thug Woman.
All the world's waiting for you,
and the power you possess.
In your white tankie,
Fighting for your rights
And the old Red, White and Blue.
Thug Woman, Thug Woman.
Now the world is ready for you,
and the ghettos you can do.
Make a hawk a dove,
Stop a war with love,
Make a liar tell the truth.
Thug Woman, Thug Woman.
You're a Thug, Thug Woman.
After 30 minutes, we found the car. Drove though the traffic and fetch my sister up at the hotel lobby.
Then it was a slow journey back home. But at we know, that we are safe now. No more walking.
Back in our apartment. We opened the window all the way up.
We lit all the candles that are available in the apartment.
We were all tired. And clearly, the male love bird had to stay over night.
All of the sudden, I felt being a third wheel didn’t matter much. He saved us. Without him, my sister and I will probably end up sleeping on the street.
The sister went to take the cold freezing shower.
The male love bird was tuned into the radio.
I climbed up to my bed. Closed my eyes.
“The last person going to bed needs to blow out the candles.”
Then that’s the last thing I said on Thursday, August 14th , 2003 – The day that New York was swallowed by darkness.
And I would like to thank to people who left me comments and emails regarding my safety during the blackout. The pain I had on my shoulders and my feet went away when I read your comments and emails. Thank you. Again, with all my heart.