Saturday, December 1, 2012

What I Saw of NYC

Not much.  They hauled us down to the office before sunup and we left long after sundown, and my chief impression is of all the lights on Trump Place as viewed from the window of a van on the West Side Parkway.

But I did manage to have lunch one day with Thing 1 who is now in medical school in New York, bless the boy.

I was assigned the job of tracking down and entering into the database all of the commercial rolling stock contracts so my duties were not very glamorous.   Not that emergency response is ever terribly glamorous, but when asked what I did for Hurricane Sandy, having to reply that I spent all day making phone calls and slaving over a hot laptop is somewhat leveling.  However, my partner Larry and I had about 350 out of 400 trucks and 135 of 150 trailers corralled by the time I out-processed Saturday night.

(Completely unsolicited testimonial – Penske, your customer service people are the tops).

Four of us were operating on two church tables and four plastic folding chairs set up in a wide spot in the main hallway previously occupied by a copy machine.  Rather a high-traffic area, and everyone seemed to think that we were there to answer questions (Where can I get a Red Cross vest?  Will my cell phone work on Staten Island?  Is there a shuttle to the hotel?) that had nothing to do with our labors.  Hence the sign I posted on my workstation after the third day in Manhattan.

It was very intense and very focused, and occasionally goofy, as when three Disaster Mental Health ladies staged an impromptu performance  of “New York, New York” from On the Town.  In a 6x6 foot cubicle, complete with hand gestures and an attempt to high-kick by one of them.

“They’ve lost it,” I said to Larry.

“Took them longer than I thought it would,” he replied.

I did not spend all thirteen days at a desk; Thanksgiving Day was passed conducting a box truck inventory on Long Island.  A New York restaurant industry group served turkey and all the trimmings to the crew in the office which of course was where I was not*.

Timing is everything.

Leaving you with the money quote – an elderly volunteer stopped by my chair one day, looked at me glumly, and remarked “I ain’t had this much fun since the hogs ate my little brother.” 

He was the driver on the regular run from Manhattan to LaGuardia, poor bastard.

(*a cup of coffee and a Slim Jim, in case you were wondering).

Photo by Eli Wohl of an ERV on Staten Island, which is still in bad shape, btw.


Bunnykins said...

I'm glad you post news about what you've been doing. Too often, the front line heros get all the attention and praise. People forget that an ambulance needs to be found, supplied, staffed, and sent to where it's needed. The people in the back room get lost in the shuffle and their contributions not recognized.

Sounds like someone owes you a big Thanksgiving dinner at the least.

Sam said...

It is the "back stage" folks who work like dogs and never get the applause they deserve. So here is yours, Shay - THANK YOU.

Sarah said...

Thank you for helping my city recover.

Shay said...

It was a privilege.