Whew, I finally returned home from a thirty-two hour endurance tour on the job. I had pulled an afternoon-to-morning all nighter, then returned to my home to recharge my cell phone, the company phone, and my laptop on Saturday morning, knowing that I'd be returning Saturday afternoon. My workplace had been sans electricity since approximately 11PM last Monday. I knew that I would not be having a fun time.
Fortunately, we have a lot of lanterns on the job because we use them for atmospheric illumination during night events. I relied heavily on a small radio/LED combo with a solar panel and a hand crank throughout my "purposeful camping" trip.
When I returned on Saturday afternoon, I knew I wouldn't be leaving anytime soon. One of my co-workers had called to tell me about the ordeal of trying to find gasoline in his Bronx neighborhood. In Yonkers, all of the gas stations near my house were completely sold out of gasoline, and the open gas stations I passed on my way to work had half-mile lines. I had about a quarter of a tank left, so ditching the car in the parking lot at work was my plan. The buses and trains were running, so I knew I'd have options (funny how most suburbanites are completely ignorant of their local public transportation options, even though almost everybody in my neck of the woods heads down to Manhattan on a fairly regular basis) if fueling up were a problem.
Saturday night into Sunday morning was no picnic. It was dark and cold and, worst of all, there was no internet access (HORRORS!!!). I don't creep out easily... at the best of times, my job is not one for someone who's easily rattled. I didn't get creeped out, but I wasn't exactly happy. The worst sensation was the chronic lack of warmth- I had put on several layers of clothing, but I didn't have a place to go for additional heat. It's not a fun sensation after the first few hours. When the skeleton crew came to work the day shift (both guys had lost power at home for most of the week), I stretched out on a settee and zonked out for a few hours. Oddly enough, I really didn't need that much sleep- my need to go outside and feel the sun's warmth and chat with my co-workers outweighed my need for sleep.
As I'd suspected, the guy who was scheduled to relieve me was still unable to purchase gas and, to compound matters, his ninety-two year old mother was in the process of being transferred from a hospital to a rehabilitation-oriented nursing home. My problems were nothing compared to his. Besides, the local gas stations were not operational because of the lack of electricity. I was actually relieved to be able to hunker down for some more time while the infrastructure was being returned to normal.
After dark, I began to see some activity on the road adjacent to my office- the good folks at Consolidated Edison had a couple of bucket trucks on the scene. Those people are absolutely heroic- they've been working outside, in the cold and darkness, around the clock. I had no heat, but I was sheltered from the elements, and I really wasn't busting my ass (I spent much of my shift spending some quality time with Will Shortz, having grabbed a bunch of past issues of The New York Times from the recycling bin). The power finally came on around 10PM. Wow, what a transition! I actually did a little happy dance before running all over the site checking the outbuildings and resetting the various alarm systems. I also sent text messages to management and the bigwigs in "physical plant" to let them know that power had been restored. The only wrinkle was that there was no internet access because the server wasn't online. Can't complain, though, the sheer fact that I was able to see clearly was cause for celebration.
When my relief came in at midnight, I headed immediately to the nearest all-night gas station, which had started the pumps only two hours earlier. There were four or five cars ahead of me, so I didn't have to wait more than five minutes before I could gas up the car (my primary concern at this time). I lucked out, the gas stations near my home are still out of fuel.
As soon as I got home, I decided that I'd put up a post recapping my sucky weekend. As soon as I hit "publish", I'm going to take a long, scalding shower. Thirty-two hours is too long a time to spend catassing in the cold and dark.
As sucky as my weekend has been, I want to stress yet again that I got off easy. My home is intact, and I was relative safe ensconced at work. I'm extremely fortunate, and I'm going to make damn sure that some of my O.T. goes to the relief effort for my people.