Thursday, November 1, 2012

Disasters Of Varying Degree

Today is Thursday, October 25th I have a full day to myself. I  worked the previous ten days in a row so I could get home to Vermont for a few days. I took four days off because I thought I might need Thursday and Sunday as full travel days if I was going to take the train. I was able to get a ride up Friday morning though so today is a free day to do some laundry, unwind, and generally get my shit together.

I woke up at 8 AM ready to deal with ten days of laundry. I had a plan. 2 hours for laundry and then off to Target to buy some sort of fancy device to clean the wood floors in my apartment and maybe a small dresser to store the clothes I planned on bringing back from Vermont. This is going to be my most efficient laundry excursion EVER I thought as I separated my delicates. I'm even going to do two separate loads so my tights don't get all tangles up in my jeans.

 I loaded my giant bag of normal laundry on one shoulder and my satchel of underpants on the other and I headed out the door, confident in the fact that I had two bags worth of weight on my shoulders which  meant that I had my purse with me and am ready to go. Obviously.

My laundromat is right across the street from my apartment but the crosswalk situation is insufficient to say the least.  I wait for a break in the traffic and sprint across, leaving a trail of socks behind me. No time to go back. I get through the doors of SUPERWASH and quickly claim one 3 load washer and one 1 load washer. I  recently put $20 on my laundry card so I'm feeling rich as far as laundry funds go.  I load the washers. I reach to my side to get my wallet out of my purse. But there is no purse at my side. In a panic I search the floor but I knew in my gut what I had done. I left my purse in my room. Which meant that I don't have my keys, wallet, phone, work pass, or my little note card where I have important numbers written in case I lose my phone. 

My first instinct is to run back to my apartment and bang on the door for a while even though I know no one is home. Then I run back to the laundromat and frantically search through anything with a pocket to see if I can find any cash. Fruitless. I consider throwing up. A small thought passes through my head.  I am never getting back inside. Things will never be OK again. I shake it off and review my options. I can go sit in front of my apartment until someone comes home. For 8 hours. I can walk to work in Manhattan and see if they'll let me in so I can use my computer. But you need an ID to get a guest pass. And it's 6 miles away.

My main concern is that I am supposed to go to my boyfriend's place in Manhattan tonight with all of my stuff for the weekend in Vermont and right now I'm not sure when I'll be able to do that. I need to get in touch with him, and hopefully with my landlord as well so I could find out when I can get back into my apartment. Just as I begin weighing the meditative benefits of sitting in one spot for eight hours it occurs to me that the Brooklyn Public Library is somewhere at the top of Prospect Park not far from me up Flatbush Avenue. I'm pretty sure.  

I start running and continue to do so for what is probably only a 1/2 mile but feels like 2. Luckily I'm wearing workout clothes, as I tend to do on Laundry day, but I am wearing no makeup and had no way to tie my hair back. The weather is compliant but on the chilly side so by the time I reach the Library my face is blotchy read and my hair is slicked back with the kind of sweat that can only be excreted during panicked sprinting. 
Good news! There are free computers with internet!
Complication: You need a library card. I don't have one.
Good News! You can get one on site!
Complication: You need an ID.
Good News! You can buy a guest pass for $2.
Complication: I have no money. The ornery slag behind the counter is not sympathetic. I understand her position but I am reasonably distraught. I go outside and sit on the elaborate stoop next to a tiny, pointless fountain.  I am presently enraged at its very existence. I cry a little for lack of a better idea. I remember that there are real homeless people and decide to pull it together. I reluctantly slump back down Flatbush Ave, dragging my feet and humming "empty chairs and empty tables" from Les Mis, which feels appropriate. It isn't.

There's still no one home. I shuffle down from my third floor walk up for the third time today. I  have no idea what time it is. Could be 10 AM could be 3 PM. I've been operating in a state of Emergency and have completely lost track of time. I get back downstairs and just stand outside of my apartment for a few minutes. I realize that I left my laundry sort of strewn in front of my chosen machines so I decide to check on it. Still there. No one seems to be complaining. I notice that is internet offered on a computer in the corner. $1 for 10 minutes! No Change. Cash only. I just need to get some money and everything will be OK, I think. I still have no wallet, no ID, and no phone on which to call a friend (though to be honest I probably wouldn't call anyone. I'm a wimp like that). Maybe, if armed with enough information, the bank will give me some of my money. I know there's a TD around here somewhere. I do everything by direct deposit but I could have sworn I saw one right near the park on...Prospect Park South? Southwest? Ocean Ave? Definitely near one of the corners.

By shear intuition and force of will I find a TD Bank. I end up walking almost the entire parameter of the park but I eventually get there, even stickier and blotchier than I was at the Library. I have my social  Security Number! I know my last five purchases! I even know that somewhere in my account number there is a 9 and probably a 7! The teller shrugs and lets me withdraw $20. I even get a free key chain. I decide that instead of going back to the Library for free internet I'm going to use the pay internet at the Laundromat so I can also do my laundry, which has now been sitting in a pile in front of the washers for several hours. Not a frugal decision, but a logical one, I think. After all I still don't know when I'll be able to get into my apartment. Might as well get something done. First though, I need a McChicken sandwich ASAP. Because I live in a neighborhood which I lovingly refer to as hood-adjacent, there is a McDonalds right next to my laundromat (as well as a Popeye's, Wendy's, Dunkin' Donuts,  and BurgerKing). I inhale my sandwich and use their bathroom which luckily is a normal public restroom and not one of those get-the-key-from-the-manager-and-navigate-a-series-of-complicated-locks situations. I cry a little more for no specific reason.

I scrap my idea of doing two separate loads. I have limited funds now, so it all (barely) goes into one double-load washer. I determine that it is only 1 PM (seriously?)  and set about writing as many emails as possible in a ten minute span to maximize my dollars. My boyfriend gets back to me quickly. My landlord eventually (three dollars  later to be exact) does and lets me know I can get back in at 5:30 and that she will meet me.

I switch my laundry into the dryer and I wait. I watch public access news which is mostly just warnings about a Hurricane that's supposed to be hitting next week. I fold my laundry very slowly and carefully. I wait some more. Finally it's 5:30 so I head over to my apartment building. The front door, which has been broken since I moved in, has apparently been fixed since I last checked earlier today. Now not only am I locked out of my apartment, but out of the whole building. I sit on my laundry bag and sulk. It occurs to me that my landlord might have thought I meant that I was locked out of the building and will be meeting me down here. But now a nice lady is offering to let me in as she leaves. I can go put my stuff my the door and then check back down here every few minutes. If she goes to the door she'll see my stuff and assume I'm near by. It's going to be OK.

An hour later, after dozens of trips up and down three flights of stairs, I have given up and taken up residence on the landing in front of my apartment. I can hear through the door to my apartment that someone is trying to buzz up.  I hop up and run down stairs and open the door to my surprised roommate who obviously wasn't expecting a live person to open the door. "Good timing! I'm locked out too!" She looked even more baffled. "Of the apartment, I mean. Did laundry today. Left my purse. Landlord never showed up to let me in". I don't know my roommate very well and she's not sure how to respond to my manic demeanor.  It doesn't matter though because within minutes I am INSIDE my apartment hugging my purse and laughing like a deranged child. (It turns out my landlord thought we were meeting in the laundromat and left a key at the desk. She's cool. No hate).

I quickly gather my belongings and head uptown to meet my boyfriend and next morning we drive to Vermont and have a lovely, relaxing weekend. I realize that my horrible stressful day really wasn't so bad. Everything is going to be OOOOKay!

In the car on our way back to NYC we hear on the radio that subways will be shutting down at 7 PM in preparation for the coming storm so we decide to go straight to his place instead of bringing me to Brooklyn so I wouldn't get stuck there alone.

Five days later, exactly a week after I spent the day locked out of my apartment I am still in Manhattan because I literally can't get to Brooklyn at all because of flood damage and general hurricane induced metropolitan chaos. Not mine, but entire neighborhoods are under water or have been destroyed by fire. Lower Manhattan (where I work) has no power. I've been working from home, watching disaster television and cringing at the horrible scenes of destruction. It is a legitimate disaster. The moral of the story here is that if you lock yourself out of your apartment and get too dramatic about it your city will probably be destroyed by a Hurricane just to make you feel guilty. I'm thinking of having my keys surgically attached to my body.

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