Three weeks ago today our preparedness (or lack there of) for Frankenstorm Sandy began with a last-minute trip to Home Depot to pick up extra supplies. Upon entering, I freaked out. I urged my husband that we needed to wait in the 100-ft-long line to buy something totally foreign to me: a generator. There were no batteries, no flashlights, and everyone was panicking. We left empty-handed with my Chris’s famous last words ringing in my ear: “I don’t think it will be that bad!”
Not “that bad” turned into a tree almost falling on our house, no power or heat for two weeks, being displaced at my in-laws’ house, sleeping in a 40-degree house Monday night to vote on November 6 in my town, then staying in a hotel, and finally shit hitting the fan on my first attempt to get into the office on November 12:While I waited in line for the NJ commuter bus at 7 AM, which would arrive in NYC at 8 AM, I heard someone say, “The trains are back up today, but there was already a derailment so they are delayed!” I was surprised they were running as I had not received any alerts on my phone with the news, but the bus still seemed like a safer bet.
By 9:30 AM, we were still inching along on the highway and it was becoming very clear that we weren’t going anywhere for a while. There were too many people driving since the trains were down. I looked around and noticed something else–there was no bathroom and I needed to go. I started talking to my neighbors, sharing Sandy stories, trying to ignore the discomfort.
A woman looked at her phone and said, “There was a bus accident in the Lincoln Tunnel this morning!” We all groaned. CRAP! No wonder we weren’t moving.
The bald man standing in the aisle next to me said, “Last week I took the bus every day and it always took three hours–and that’s without accidents!” I’ll never make it! That’s IT, I thought.
I ran up to the bus driver and whispered, “Is there a rest stop we can go to? I need to go to the bathroom very badly!”
The male driver who seemed like a pleasant man shook his head and replied, “Oh boy…I don’t think so. There may be a construction site somewhere with a port-a-potty.”
“That’s fine! I have tissues in my purse. Anything you can do, please!” I returned to my seat and could feel the stares. I didn’t care. My only other option was peeing my pants, and my seat mate didn’t deserve that…
About 30 minutes later the bus stopped and I looked up. The driver motioned for me to come up. I looked out the windows on the left side of the bus and saw a port-a-potty–it was like seeing a pot of gold! I jumped off and ran like a mad woman to the construction site.
When I exited the potty, there was a woman from the bus waiting to use it as well! I guess I wasn’t the only one who had a healthy glass of juice that morning.
It was 12 PM when the bus drove on to 9th Avenue and 40th Street from the Lincoln Tunnel. Because Port Authority was backed up with too many buses, the driver just let us out on the street. We all scrambled and ran off in a hurry; each passenger was eager to start his/her work day (what was left of it!).
Despite all of this, I realize I am blessed. Some still have no power, many lost their homes, and here I am typing on my living room couch while listening to Daft Punk on Pandora. Sandy reminded me what to be thankful for in life–I never expected portable toilets to be on that list!!