I didn’t really realize I was supposed to remember, until I read about it being remembered in the paper yesterday morning. So here’s what I remember.
Late afternoon, Midtown Manhattan, the lights and my computer go out. I look out my office door, all the lights and all the computers are out. So is my phone. So are the lights out on the street and in the offices across the way. I call someone in NJ on my cell — not really noticing at the time just how remarkable it would seem to get a connection — to have her check the news. No word yet.
So we hang around for a little while, and I get educated on things like the importance of POTS lines and hand-cranked transistor radios. After we learn that this is, in fact, a Very Big Deal, I decide to head for home. Here’s the way it went:
Other than the part that actually goes over water, I walked this whole thing.
It was pretty well established that Penn Station, my usual Escape From New York, wasn’t an option. It’s mostly underground so there’s no lights, plus the trains are electric. I stroll past Port Authority Bus Terminal, but the tunnels are closed for lack of illumination too. So I trudge over to the ferry on the Hudson River.
Fast forward three hours in the blazing August sun. Thorough chaos, no announcements, dribs and drabs of people getting onto the only two boats available. Thousands of people trying to get one of the few cell connections, there’s no communication with the outside world. Finally around 7-8:00 I get on and go over to Weehawken. I have no idea where I am, other than being in New Jersey. But that’s ok, neither does anyone else. There are busses out front but nobody knows where they’re going. I overhear some women saying, “let’s just walk down to Hoboken, it’s not far.” So I give that a try.
At one point I found — a miracle! — an open supermarket. The line wrapped all the way around the inside of the store but it was worth it just to get a bottle of water! Round about 11:30 I finally trudge in to Hoboken, after walking down streets so dark I couldn’t see my feet underneath me. The trains — another miracle! — are running and I get on one. By 1 a.m. I’m finally home in bed.
I learned a couple things later on. If I’d just settled in and waited a few hours I’d actually have gotten home faster. But who knew? The last big blackout like this lasted days. Also, that the work I was rushing home to do had already been dealt with by the Washington office. (But did I get credit for setting up procedures so that they could actually manage it if I weren’t available? More like “hm, you’re more dispensable than we’d thought.” But I digress.)
And that’s what I remember of my odyssey. Fun times in the big city. Now I work six minutes from home and I’m feeling better about that all the time.