Four days after Hurricane Sandy made landfall, we still had no power. We had no heat in the house, and Matt had burned his lips and swallowed some gas the day before while attempting to syphon that liquid gold out of the car and into the generator so we could keep the refrigerator running. After four long days, we decided to get the hell out of Dodge.
We headed to Massachusetts. Matt was scheduled to work up there, and the lure of power, heat, and gasoline was too great to resist. The people at the hotel thought we were a little crazy when we called ahead to ask whether they had power (“um, yes”) and whether there were lines at the gas stations (“um, no”).
As we drove up the Garden State Parkway, the lines for fuel at each rest area stretched at least a couple miles. But as we put New Jersey in our rearview mirror, the lines got shorter and the lights more plentiful.
Once we checked into the hotel, the first place we headed was the Ninety Nine, a New England casual dining institution. After our server welcomed us and we ordered our first round of beers, we told her we were just happy to have power and heat after four days. We explained that we had traveled from New Jersey and told her about the power outages and gas lines.
We devoured our dinner and enjoyed a second round of beverages. When we were done, our server brought the manager to our table.
“I understand you’re from New Jersey,” the manager said. Seems our server had ratted us out.
“Yes, we are,” Matt said. We then told her the same stories we told our server.
“Well, I’d like to take care of your dinner for you,” the manager offered.
“That’s very nice of you,” I said, ” but we only lost our power. We had no damage to our house, and we’re OK. But thank you for offering.”
“No, really,” the manager said. “I would like to buy dinner for you.”
“We really do appreciate it,” Matt said. “But there are people in New Jersey and New York who way are worse off than we are.” And the funny thing was Matt truly didn’t understand the extent of the damage until he saw the news for the first time that night.
We paid for dinner that night, but it was nice to know that there was someone who wanted to help.
It’s hard to believe six months has passed since Hurricane Sandy. If you look around our town, you would never know there had been a hurricane. Matt and I realize how fortunate we were after the storm. The power came back after a week, the Really Big Oak in our neighbors’ yard managed to stay standing and not land on our house. All we lost were a few items out of the refrigerator. But less than an hour away, the rebuilding continues. But as we’ve learned, you don’t mess with Jersey. We’ll be back.
(Yes, the title to this blog is also the title to a Jimmy Buffett song. This is not going to become a thing, I promise.)