In last issue’s Deleted Scenes column, I talked about Hurricane Irene being somewhat anti-climactic as compared to the armageddic visions of the news prior to. As I drove around North Jersey this past week, stuck in traffic at every turn caused by flooding of the (Mighty) Passaic, the Raritan, the Rockaway and other rivers, and as I looked at the pictures of collapsed bridges and had to reroute myself on my commute home—where my Internet is still out as of press-time—I rethought my position.
As concerns the local damage to North Jersey and Upstate New York—neither of which took the worst of the storm, but both of which have suffered do to a general lack of preparedness and crumbling infrastructure—they’ve taken to calling it “Tropical Storm Irene,” and while on the level of wind speeds, rain dumpage, etc., they’re probably correct to do so, I think at this point it has caused enough problems to earn the title “Hurricane,” so that’s what I’m going to use. Hurricane Irene. What a bastard.
The power at the Aquarian office, for most of last week, was out. That wouldn’t be a problem but for my own lack of Internet noted above. Last Monday and Tuesday, I pretty much let pass. Monday is press day and by then, most (not all) of my work on the issue is done. Unable to get most anywhere else, I went to Panera in Rockaway and looked over the pages, made a few last-minute corrections to the issue, and declared it ready to go out. Tuesday I waited for news that the power was back on that never came.
By Tuesday evening, word was it might not back be until this week, and with the threat looming of going to press this past Friday for this issue (to account for Labor Day), I started to get worried. Not knowing either—because Cablevision are motherfuckers and couldn’t even put a, “We know your shit is off and we’re working to fix it” message on their answering system—when my Internet would be back on, I nonetheless trekked to the office to hijack my desktop computer, where the copy and what images I’d already obtained for this issue were stored. Fun stuff.
So I had this computer in the trunk of my car, but nowhere to use it. Wednesday, on top of everything else, I had to take my wife to the airport, so I left the Denville library to do that, then took my desktop to Rutgers Newark and set up in one of the study rooms in their library. That allowed me to properly deal with the 500 emails that had piled up since the weekend, but not do much else, since the building was closing at 5 p.m.
I lugged the computer and myself into an empty classroom at that point and sat there until I couldn’t see anymore and things became blurred on the screen (another three and a half hours or so) and then packed it in for the night and went home to read for class—because, oh yeah, the semester started last Thursday. In that, Hurricane Irene actually helped, because not having Internet to distract myself gave me nothing else to do but read a book, so I guess I owe one there. Hardly evens the score, but there you go.
Convincing me once and for all that they tell you a later time on purpose so you can be impressed afterwards with how early they were, PSE&G showed up at the Aquarian last Thursday, and though I would have liked to be in that order when the saints came marching in, I was stuck at my house awaiting Cablevision’s repair guy before going to class. With debris piling up from my other job, my blog, my Fulbright application (the ultimate escapist fantasy) and much, much more, I’m starting to feel like, yes, indeed, I was hit by a hurricane. Maybe I just didn’t realize it at the time.
So the correction I want to make, as referred to in the headline above, is that Hurricane Irene was not a minor inconvenience, not just some miniscule bump in the road. In fact it was and continues to be a tremendous pain in my ass. With the acknowledgement that a whole lot of people got it a whole lot worse than I did, I’ll officially declare that however much I paid, I got my money’s worth.