History was made
this week—but NOT the way meteorologists expected. Record snowfalls were predicted in a
seemingly endless (and tedious) loop on every news station all weekend. In anticipation of an overnight snowfall of
two to three feet, Governor Cuomo and Mayor De Blasio shut down New York City
at 11 PM Monday night. No more subways
or buses until further notice. All
non-emergency vehicles were forbidden access to roads in preparation for the army
of trucks and ploughs necessary to cart
off the soon-to-be perilously mounting piles of snow. For the first time I can
remember, schools were closed the night before (instead of early in the
morning) to the delight of all city children. But before kids could pull out
their sleds—alas—Central Park also closed, for fear of falling tree branches under
the weight of all that snow. In fact, our
mayor, ersatz nanny-and-principal, urged everyone to leave work early, go home, and stay inside.
“Duh!” Anyone looking out the window Monday afternoon didn’t need much
However, before we
plucky and practical New Yorkers decide to batten down our hatches, turn up the
heat in our apartments, and hunker down for the duration, we have to prepare
for this mother of all storms, right?
Everyone—and I do mean everyone—ran to the supermarket. Who knew how long the Big Apple would be shut
down? How would our groceries get delivered
with two feet of snow on our streets? At
2 PM on Monday, I hurried to Food Emporium where I found every shopping cart
taken and people waiting to pounce on an empty one as soon as it got unloaded. Even after I succeeded in snagging a precious
wagon, navigating the crowded supermarket turned out to be quite a challenge.
Is this what it would be like if there were an impending nuclear
holocaust? Or had I wandered into an
episode of The Walking Dead?
Quick, quick, grab the Bumble Bee
tuna packed in water for Sarah’s diet, I silently chanted, willing myself
through the human labyrinth. Oh NO, all
that’s left on an almost-empty shelf of tuna is the high calorie Bumble Bee
soaked in oil. Crouching down to the
bottom shelf, looking deep into the back, I managed to spot and grab a lone four-pack of Star-Kist tuna in
captain my wobbly-wheeled, metal cart toward the beverage aisle. I checked my list for the Elisofon preferred
sodas and waters. In shock and chagrin,
I discovered that competing shoppers had already scooped up every last small
bottle of plain Perrier and Poland Spring.
All that was left were lemon and lime flavors nobody in my family likes.
Quickly, I grabbed a few large plain bottles and threw in the last 12-pack of
Pellegrino—not my preferred brand—but, hey beggars trapped by Mother Nature
can’t be choosers. At least there was
plenty of Fiji water, Henry’s favorite.
I’d have fled the market at that
point, but we still needed eggs, cheese and cold cuts. In the dairy section, more bad news awaited
me. Forget about jumbo or extra-large
eggs. Only the “large” eggs remained, (by comparison,
these tended to be quite small) but scrambled eggs on Saturday are a must, so I
carefully perched a carton of scrawny eggs on top of the other necessities in
my wagon. En route to the cold cuts
counter, I scooped up a wedge of Jarlsberg, leaving only one more wedge on the
counter. (Normally, there was a pile of 20
or 30 hunks in various sizes.) Next, attempting to approach the cold cuts area,
I encountered a seemingly endless line of shoppers waiting to check out. The
cold cut counter was completely obliterated by the throbbing, impatient masses
wanting to pay and escape the market.
“Excuse me.” Gingerly, I slipped into
the crowd, reassuring everyone that I wasn’t cutting the line. “I just need
some turkey and roast beef,” I promised. “I swear I’ll to go to the end of the
“end” of the line stretched halfway through the store, past the milk and dairy
section, snaking through the meats and beyond.
As quickly as possible—without crashing into a baby carriage or knocking
over an old lady with her walker—I slid behind a young woman holding a small
basket of items and nonchalantly photographing the surrounding chaos with her iPhone. As I caught my breath, she snapped a selfie.
The powers-that-be at Food Emporium
had obviously mandated all shoppers to stand in one gigantic, serpentine line—instead
of the usual EIGHT smaller lines for each cashier. (Maybe they’d imagined our progress would be more efficient
in this new configuration?) We inched along.
Suddenly, I realized I’d better grab some more toilet paper.
worry.” The woman in front of me
graciously offered. “I’ll save your place and pull your wagon behind me.”
at her dubiously. My wagon was heaped and
overflowing. “Are you sure?”
waved me off with a smile, and I sprinted across the aisles toward paper goods.
No more Charmin Ultra Soft. Our fannies would
survive on Cottonelle. Returning to the
deli counter, the approximate area where I’d left my cart, I saw that the line
had suddenly surged forward in my absence. Luckily, I recognized the kind woman
who’d offered to help me still dutifully dragging my cart. Slipping in behind her, I said “Thanks. I owe
the cashier area, chaos truly reigned.
Some shoppers had carts piled high with groceries; others clutched
baskets with less than a dozen items. No
one directed traffic. Small orders did
not go into an express line, but mixed with people like me who had huge orders
for delivery. I felt sorry for folks with under a dozen items, but there was literally
no room to maneuver my cart in order to let them go in front of me. And even if I had somehow managed to let that
person with only bread and milk slide into the line in front of me, well, wouldn’t
the next shopper with only a few items want the same favor? And the next?
Looking at my watch, I realized it
was much later than I’d thought. My
doctor’s appointment (already confirmed) was only fifteen minutes away. I
didn’t want to be late because I knew the doctor and his staff would need to
leave early. I also knew that rushing
down the sidewalk was a bad idea: I might slip, fall, and need an orthopedist appointment
next. I shuddered at the vision of the orthopedist’s crowded waiting room, filled
with my compatriots who also fell in the blizzard. . . .
wait a minute, you might say. What blizzard?
Indeed, what did happen to the bales
of snow that were supposed to fall all night Monday and all day on
Tuesday? Looking out the window Tuesday
morning, Henry informed me that there was not a single snowflake falling. Oops, the metereologists at the National
Weather Center had made a mistake. The
storm—named Juno—had taken a last minute turn eastward. Long Island had been pounded with over two feet, and Boston’s
suburbs got hit even worse. But in New
York City, only a measly 8 to 10 inches in total had wafted down.
“Sorry,” the metereologists said
(with rather less enthusiasm than when they’d been reporting the oncoming
“Better safe than sorry,” the
politicians chimed in.
New York Post called it: “the great snow job of 2015.” Making fun of our mayor on the front page,
the headline read: “De-Railed! Scandal behind subway shutdown.” Further, the Post calledmeteorologists “forecast
flubbers” who “flaked on this one,” and derisively referred to the “historic
snowfail.” Clearly, the editors had fun with their story
(as I’m having fun with mine). Call the
storm what you will— I call it a boondoggle best enjoyed from Florida, on a flat screen TV.
Labels: blizzards, Bumble Bee, Cottonelle, eggs, Florida, Food Emporium, Governor Cuomo, Juno, Mayor DeBlasio, meteorologists, New York City, Perrier, Poland Spring, snow storms, super market, The New York Post