Luke Melia


August 15, 2003

The Blackout of ’03

I’m down on the Jersey Shore now, at my beach place, away from the heat and darkness that was New York City last night. It was pretty nuts. The power snapped off around 4pm, just as my company’s IS department was scurrying around trying to patch our computers against the Microsoft worm that’s been going around. We thought it was just our building at first, but then saw some people looking out their window across the street, and then we started hearing the crazyiest reports.

“Midtown is out, too.”

“Downtown is out.”

“They have no power in the Bronx.” “The Bronx?”

“Westchester, too, and Bergen County in Jersey is out.”

“Toronto has no power.”

What the f* is going on, we were wondering. Nobody wanted to panic, but everyone was thinking it might be some sort of terrorist attack. I’m glad it wasn’t. Poor engineering and upkeep somehow seems a preferable enemy.

So after an hour in the dark at work, we all went home. It was an easy three blocks for me, not so easy for people that commute via subway or train. In the streets, cars moved cautiously, though no more slowly than on a typical Manhattan afternoon. Downtown, lines of hundreds and hundreds of people waited for ferries to New Jersey. Across the island, people walked across the bridge.

When I got home, I collected my candles and flashlight, and then skated over to the gym. I figured it would be closed, but I thought I might find some other volleyball players. Sure enough, Zak spotted me and said, “I thought if anyone would come down here hoping to play volleyball right now, it would be you.” So we headed down the west side bike path to the World Financial center and played some pickup sixes until it got too dark.

Back at home, I discovered that I had water and gas, so cooking was a possibility, that my phone didn’t work at all without power, and that I didn’t have a working radio. My cell phone didn’t work at all until midday today. So I really had no news until I ran into a neighbor in the morning and than spoke to my sister Monica from a pay phone after that.

I cooked up a big bowl of pasta a la everything-perishable-in-my-fridge and later tuned my guitar up. I played by candlelight till I was too exhausted to continue.

I was glad to see that New York as a town seemed to handle it so well. Calmly, neighborly, peacefully.

I’m not sure why the PATH trains were working today when the subways weren’t, but they were, and I hopped one to Journal Square where Bill, my tournament partner for tomorrow, picked me up. We made it to Surf Taco in Pt. Pleasant in time for dinner!

2 Responses to “The Blackout of ’03”

  1. rich chimed in:

    perma linkin this one… poetic


  2. Mike Melia chimed in:

    Lukester – always glad to read your ever optimistic view of life

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