NY Saddle Adventures: the blackout of ‘03
I was at work, and the lights flickered.
About a minute later, they flickered again and went out. After a few minutes of everyone in the office wondering what exactly should be done, we decided it was time to evacuate. Good thing we were on the 38th floor! That was a fun descent on the stairs. My thighs were like, really?
At the bottom and outside of the building, one of the partners said, okay, well, we’ll see what happens, but maybe everybody should stay close by in case we can go back to work. I think most of the rest of us were like, uh, fuck that…I’m going home! I decided to go to my sister’s apartment, because it was close and I wanted to be around people. No one knew what was going on…was it terrorist-related? Was something really bad going to happen? I mean, there were kids crying in the street! No kidding!
By the time I got to my sister’s building, it was known that there was some kind of water mane break upstate and that was the cause for the blackout. I don’t remember where this information came from, but there were a lot of people standing around the lobby area and some of them had cell reception, so I guess from one of them. Now, here’s where I sing Verizon’s praises. It was the only, and I mean ONLY carrier that seemed to be working for anybody that day. It was quite amazing. All the poor Sprint and AT&T and otherwise people stood there and watched with envy as the Verizon peops chatted away and connected with friends and family. We all just got the sad fast beeping. Wa wa waaaaaaa…
So when I realized my sister was not at her building, I begged some dude with a Verizon-operated phone to let me use it. He was kind of bitchy about it, if you ask me, but he acquiesced eventually. My sister was at her then boyfriend’s (now husband’s) apartment, so I walked back down to 55th and 7th. I tell you this because when I say my legs were like jelly, I mean I just walked down 38 flights of stairs, walked four crosstown and five uptown blocks, then seven more dowtown and one and a half crosstown blocks BACK. Jelly. For real. Jell-y.
This meant that I was sticking at my now bro-in-law’s apartment for the night. Walking downtown to my 13th street place was not an option. This comes into play for a couple of reasons. 1) My friends all lived downtown and were taking the opportunity to hang out on the street and drink and pizza places were handing out pizza and such and it all sounded like fun. And 2) much as I love my sister and brother-in-law, they went to bed pretty early, there wasn’t much in the way of food and snacking, and it was rull rull hot in there!! So, downtown probably would have been a better experience. I imagined all my friends having a grand old city time, and me, lying on a leather couch in extreme heat, trying to fall asleep at 9pm. I was 24 at the time. Not my idea of super funness.
By the morning, most buildings still didn’t have power, but the streetlights were working on 5th ave (or something that would take me downtown), so I hopped on a bus and went home. My building still didn’t have power, so one of my neighbors dropped down a flashlight for me to use in the completely pitch black stairwell. I lit some candles and took a sponge bath in my bathroom, which…had I had a boyfriend at the time…would have been kind of fun. Again, wa wa waaaaaaa. Instead, after I was done “bathing,” I went across the street to my friend’s building where I found her sitting out front. I have no idea what we did after that, but I do remember calling into work and praying to god that the power hadn’t gone on yet. Hooky was just too tempting.
For some reason, I remember going to see Avenue Q (which, by the way, thanks to baby brain [I’m finishing this post currently, when it was written probably well over a year ago] I just had to Google by saying “broadway show with puppets.” Jeeeeeez) later that night with my friend Michael. I’ll have to check with him and make sure that is true. But I think there was a question of if it would go on because of the power situation. Anyway…that is my memory of one of the weirdest experiences of my life. It’s rare that a city like New York ever gets shut down to that degree. It was pretty damn cool.