Gridlock Wednesday

New York, NY, USA -- 31 October 2012 | Permalink
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09:30 The Lower East Side is all queues this morning. The Fine Fare off Grand St has opened and the staff are letting in the shoppers a few at a time. Further down towards the East River, people from the projects are queuing at a hydrant to fill buckets with water. It's a reminder that there are worse things than being without power for a few days.

10:20 As we cross the Bowery, a woman in a white BMV SUV comes racing north at unnecessary speed, weaving around the other vehicles. The sight of pedestrians in the road ahead of her doesn't make her slow down, so we have to jump out of her way. So much for drivers being respectful to pedestrians.

10:25 We join a queue waiting for a bus just north of Cooper Union. Most of the buses running uptown are completely packed.

10:45 An Asian man in a red car pulls up, and offers anyone who wants a ride to 63rd and 3rd. Three people take him up on his offer.

11:00 The bus arrives and we all squeeze on board. Standing room only.

11:30 The streets are totally grid-locked. The signals aren't working, and there seem to be traffic cops only at every other intersection. People who failed to get on the bus at the last stop are walking alongside, in most cases moving faster than we are.

12:00 M., looking out the window, spots Governor Cuomo walking on the sidewalk, trailed by his Secret Service escort. A line of black Town Cars and SUVs, presumably his motorcade, is trying to catch up with him, snarling the grid-locked traffic still further.

12:30 The bus driver keeps asking us to move towards the back of the bus to let more people aboard. A Hispanic man calls back "I've moved as far down as I can. If I go any further, I think these people are going to slap me."

13:00 We get off at 106th Street. We've gone a hundred blocks in two hours.

13:20 Our friends K. and H. have power. And hot water.

17:00 H. and I go out to get some food. Central Park is closed off, and you can see downed trees from outside.

17:15 On Madison, there are children in Halloween costumes and a man with a cleaver stuck in his head. The stores are brightly-lit, and there are no owners standing by the door with flashlights to let customers in one at a time. It is all implausibly normal.