The church and the phone and the lights


By Wednesday, the water had subsided enough so that we could go out. At first I thought one of us had spilled some kind of bleach or kerosene in the apartment; but it was the whole street. The water had swept into the basements and the backyards and tipped all kinds of things over–paint, gasoline, kerosene. It was nobody’s fault. The Hudson river upended everything.

Let’s be clear: Hoboken floods. A lot. In advance of a heavy rainstorm, the city sends out emails and texts to warn people to move their cars; if it’s really bad, a few of the lots open up for those cars. I cannot emphasize how lucky we are. We had, and have a car, but we park it in a covered lot, on one of the upper levels.

Lots of people left town, in their cars, but lots of people didn’t. Wednesday was quiet. Some stores, without lights, opened. One market gave out Halloween candy at the door. There were no traffic lights on the main drag.

Some guy told us that there was power, and power strips, at a church up the street. He also mentioned that there was a block down the street, at the other end of the city, that had never lost power–and was sharing what they could via power strips on the sidewalk. I decided to head for the church because it was closer.

I sat in the church for a long time. Lots of people sat in the church, chatting. It was warm and bright. I saw a neighbor who seemed to have a fistful of phones–he had brought his whole family’s phones. None of them was a smart phone. Not even close.

Mothers with iPads came with their cranked-up kids, anxious to get their entertainment centers powered up. (I had brought mine, too, but felt guilty about plugging in two appliances at the same time.)

Technology notes: It was hard to fit the special Apple plugs in along with the rest of the phone and computer plugs…they were ungainly. Everyone was happy to shift their plugs around. Some guy came by and apologetically took back three power strips–he had lent them to the church, and he needed them back. A little girl in a fairy costume wafted through the church, and a little boy in a Mexican wrester mask fidgeted while his family’s phones charged. Outside, the National Guard gave out candy. Halloween would not be denied.


About Martha Garvey

Dog lover, writer, web fiend
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