After the Wrath – by Cara
All totaled, we were without power for five days. No refrigerated food. No air conditioning. And the constant buzzing of tree grinding that I am listening to as I write. Which has been ongoing now for over a week. Which also, incidentally, is getting on my nerves. At least they stop cutting trees at around 8pm now and resume at 9am. They had been cutting around the clock, 24/7.
I restocked my refrigerator. I found it coincidental that almost all condiments were on sale at my local grocery store. Yes, I’m sure it was in preparation for the 4th of July weekend. But I found it interesting because those were also items our community needed to stock up on. Our local newspaper, The Great Neck News, was quoted saying that, “Some 1,000 trees were downed, causing $10 – 15 million worth of damage. Some 25,000 customers in Nassau County, the majority in Great Neck, were without power.” As if we were not already aware of that. But that’s beside the point.
During those five days, in order to cool down and recharge my cell phone, cell phone battery charger, and computer, I would pack up my things (along with a multiplug adapter), and trek off to spend a couple hours at one of our local Starbucks. I would set myself up for the afternoon. The store was packed with locals who were doing the same thing. In fact, when I pulled out my multiplug, and offered those who were waiting for outlets to free up, to use the multiplug outlets I wasn’t in need of, I made quite a few friends!
I came to anticipate those five days at Starbucks. I heard horror stories of damages to people’s homes. One family was desperately trying to find one room at ANY hotel on Long Island to go to, without any success. There was a gathering of the “lost souls” at Starbucks who had nowhere to go. We chatted. Got to know each other. And in a community that is known for it’s haughtiness, we were suddenly all equals. It didn’t matter who had a bigger home or a fancier car. We all were in the same boat…no power, no food, and no means of communication other than our cell phones, which we were all charging. And together we “let our hair down.” No one came “dressed to impress.” We just wanted a cool place to charge our cell phones and other technology. And get a cool drink!
Which brought me to my next observation. Americans are attached to our technology. I’ve gone on trips where I wasn’t able to use my cell phone or laptop. And I was well aware that I would come home to 100+ e-mails and 250+ junk e-mails. But when your only means of communication is your cell phone, for an undetermined amount of time, cell phones come close to brushing your teeth! And when going on the Internet for a couple hours to connect with the world in other ways, your laptop really, truly becomes your luxury. That is what my comrades in Starbucks all felt like. We were stripped of everything except our technology. And with that we were all on equal ground.
The last day that I spent at Starbucks, their Internet system was down. We were able to charge our items, but no one was able to log on to the Internet. Many of us had Apple laptops, as did I. As soon as all of our peripherals were fully charged, the Apple consumers came up with a great idea! Let’s go to the Apple Store a mile down the road and use their Internet service! We all scrambled to pack up and drove down the road. The store was so inundated with customers, there was not enough staff to assist the people who wanted to purchase things. I found a nice Mac Book Pro in a remote area of the store, sat down, and surfed the web. It was not as nice as being among the “lost souls” at Starbucks. But hey, a woman’s got to do what a woman’s got to do!