Thursday, October 27, 2005

Wilma Aftermath, Day 4

At 7 a.m. I hiked up to the pay phone to call work. I didn't have any success reaching a live person, but did confirm that the resort still has no power. To get to the phone I passed by a line of cars waiting for gas, so after I made my calls I walked up to the gas station--the BP station at Sample Road and NE 3rd Avenue--and then walked the line and counted the cars. I've heard of "a line a mile long" before, but this is the first time I've actually seen one. I counted over 300 cars--all the way from Sample to Copans Road on 3rd Avenue, then east on Copans to Dixie Highway, and stretching north on Dixie--growing all the time while I was watching. This line was a result of a rumor that the gas station was going to open at 10 a.m. I spoke with the woman who was last in line as I came around the corner on Dixie. I told her how many cars were ahead of her and gently suggested that she might be wasting time and gas by getting in the line. She was desperate and determined. In addition to the cars, there were dozens of people in line on foot, with gas cans.

I walked home, tightened up the wobbly back wheel on my bike, and set off on a sort of scavenger hunt--my list included tape, aluminum foil, matches, a phone, and oil lamp, and AA batteries.

I got to Walgreens first and I didn't have to wait. There were two lines. About four people were in the "pharmacy" line, and nobody in the "regular shopping" line. there were no lights inside the store, so an employee with a flashlight took me to the location of each item. They had plenty of AA batteries, candles, and matches. I wasn't optimistic about the phone but they did have a whole bin of them--really nice, with caller ID and speaker phone for just $9.99. Luckily I did have cash--they were just adding everything up by hand and counting out the change from an open cash register.

I curtailed my exploring for the time being and rushed home with the phone. I was able to call work and get a little information. Maybe I could go in tomorrow; maybe they will get power on Suday. We called Key West and heard a first hand account of the damage there: mostly water damage, 80% of the island was flooded. Fantasy Fest will be postponed, rather than cancelled. I heard on the radio last night that tourists will be allowed to drive into Key West beginning tomorrow, but most people don't have gas at this point and very few gas stations are open.

Yesterday, after I finished It Looks Like a President..., I read the frst 100 pages of The Life and Work of Harold Pinter. This morning I read some Steinbeck ("The Crysanthemums") and some Edith Wharton ("Madame de Treymes") from my little mini Penguin books that were published on the 60th anniversary of that august institution--they are so fun to hold and read. I wish I had bough the entire collection. I think there were 60 of them and they cost 60 cents each. They are 3" x 4", good quality paperback binding. I have "To Build a Fire" by Jack London and "Truckstop" by Garrison Keillor, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by S.T. Coleridge, and the U.S. Constitution. Everybody should own a pocket-sized edition of the U.S. Constitution, in my opinion.

I also did laundry again this morning. I'm actually washing the clothes faster than we're getting them dirty.

We had mail delivery today for the first time since Saturday. Smithsonian and Wired magazines kept me occupied for a while. About 4 p.m. I set out on my bike to see what was going on in the world. One of our corner drug dealer associates passed close by my bike so I said, "hi" and he said, "How's it going, ma'am." Good public relations for his little enterprise. Their business is not suffering from the storm, apparently...

So, I started to got to the BP gas station that was the subject of so much anticipation this morning, but there was no longer a line so I assumed they probably ran out of gas, or else they never opened at all. I headed for the nearest shopping center to see what was open there. As I approached, I smelled fried chicken. That got my attention and I followed the scent to the supermarket, but they were just selling canned goods. Next door, the China Buffet was doing a cash-only, takeout-only business. Eureka. So I hustled on in and got two dinners to go and biked them straight home. We had hot food for dinner and no cleanup. As I was leaving the shopping plaza, I saw a little bar that was open and had a sign out: "Coffee. Wings." So I guess that was the chicken I originally smelled that led me serendipitously to the China Buffet.

Also this afternoon I succeeded in placing a call to my homeowners "wind insurance" company--got my claim number and they say the'll contact me within 14 days. That's good enough for me. Everything is going as well as it possibly could go.


Anonymous said...

"So I guess that was the chicken I originally smelled that led me serendipitously to the China Buffet."

Serendipitously. What a great word. This is a grand adventure story, mom! Haha. It's like being there in Florida with you, having hurricane adventures, just minus the long boring no-internet-connection parts.

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