Trains and buses have shut down, people have been evacuated from eastern New Jersey and the southern tip of Manhattan, and as of writing Hurricane Sandy has hit and hit hard: 65 million residents on the north-east of America have been affected, New York Hospital’s main power has blown up and seriously ill patients had to be carried out in the middle of the night by skeleton crews. Supermarkets are empty, their shelves stripped by people who for once took warnings to heart. Flashlights, ropes, batteries and other such contraptions are sold out, the streets resemble Nevil Shute’s On the Beach, and constant TV bulletins are warning that the world as we know it is about to end. Staten Island is underwater, as are parts of New Jersey and Long Island. I went to judo practice and a giant crane collapsed next to the club sending everyone fleeing. Like the kid in the film Hope and Glory who thanked Adolf for bombing his school during the war, I thanked Sandy for postponing my torture.
But let’s put some things in perspective. The north-east has been shut down for two days and it will take another two to open up. The stock market is closed, as are all modes of transport. My poor maid’s house in Queen’s has been crushed by an uprooted tree and she’s homeless. Still, the Japanese got hit not once but twice with atomic bombs, and a few years later were producing better cars than Detroit, not hard to do, I grant you. Less than 20 years later Tokyo came up with one of the greatest Olympics ever.
Eleven years after the twin towers went down, Mother Nature is causing havoc in the Big Bagel. The only two men who drove in from Jersey on Monday morning to work were two Greek barbers, Panayotis and Dimitris, unlike most Puerto Rican and Hispanic labourers who spend mañana in bed.