My Most Brooklynest Night

Filed under living in new york is neat, living in new york sucks so hard

Anyone who’s lived in NYC for five minutes can tell you that the electric company, ConEd, sucks. Now that I’m nearly halfway to becoming a “real New Yorker” (they say it takes 10 years, and if how New York you are is based on how much you despise all other New Yorkers, I believe them), I have a few horror stories of my own. But Monday night’s takes the cake.

On Monday morning, I posted about tiny and therefore easily air-conditioned apartments being a good reason to never leave Manhattan, and Bachelor Girl said, “At least you live in a place where you will not DIE without air conditioning.” I should’ve known it was foreshadowing.

So, my friend Tessa was staying with me, as I mentioned, and after work that day, we met up with her-friend-who-I’ve-also-hung-out-with-once, Mark, and my friend Ash at Caravan of Dreams, a raw organic vegan restaurant that goes against everything I believe in but is delicious. Afterward, we went for a couple of hours of karaoke, which turned out to be amazing, because I somehow only make friends with people who have incredible voices.

Tessa and I got back to my apartment at around 11 p.m. and sort of started getting ready for bed but then ended up chatting for 45 minutes or so about how much better we are than everyone else, how people try to ruin our lives because we’re so great, the usual. And then all of the lights went out. Had I been awake alone and, say, in the bathroom, I would’ve freaked the hell out. As it was, we sat in shock for three seconds, and then I realized I was holding my BlackBerry and scrolled the trackwheel on it so the screen would give us a little light. The air conditioner was oddly still on, so I went over and switched it off to see if that would fix anything, and then we went to my bedroom window to see if the whole block was down, but the houses across the street were still lit. Tessa has some experience with fuse boxes, so she went to work on ours, flipping everything every which way, but nothing changed. I tried to turn the air conditioner back on, but of course it wouldn’t work anymore.

We slipped on our shoes and trudged out to the street, and while the houses across the street really were lit (with one smug asshole surfing on his computer right in front of his bay window), neighbors on my side of the street were all filing out of their houses in confusion. A ConEd emergency truck parked right in front of us and set about making some horrendous noise as it worked on the cables below the street, no doubt waking up anyone who had been sleeping peacefully and hadn’t noticed the power go out (my roommate).

We stood outside for perhaps 15 minutes, figuring 95 degrees and a slight breeze was better than 95 degrees and a non-functioning air conditioner, and then a girl from my building came out and announced that ConEd had called and left her a message about how it was a planned outage meant to last anywhere from two to six hours. WHO PLANS AN OUTAGE ON THE HOTTEST DAY OF THE YEAR THUS FAR? And who thought midnight, when there’s nowhere to be except your apartment, was a better idea than, say, noon, when most people are at work, anyway, and everyone else can just walk down the street to an air-conditioned coffee shop? Oh, ConEd.

The thing is–despite the fact that:

1) we had to sleep through the sweltering heat that night with no relief,
2) the two to six hours ConEd promised turned into twelve, and
3) Kamran’s Manhattan apartment has free and unlimited air conditioning,

I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. All of us hanging out on our stoops, my landlord’s non-English-speaking Italian mother coming out of our building in her housecoat, an old lady who still had electricity yelling from her window for everyone to shut up and let her sleep . . .

It was so Brooklyn.


  1. Alfagirl says:

    Now you have an inkling of what it was like during the rolling blackouts in CA. Except that during the day, the businesses all lose millions because stuff just shuts down in the middle of the day w/out notice.

    • I never thought that sort of thing could happen in Brooklyn! California, sure. New Jersey? OF COURSE. But not Brooklyn. Remember how they always used to ask us to stop using electricity at work wherever we could? I was always like, “Yeah, okay,” and then plugged in 100 hairdryers I happened to have stored beneath my desk. Now I feel sorta bad.

      It must suck for those businesses, though, especially ones with perishable goods. I of course had nothing in our refrigerator and only some months-old ice cream in the freezer, but poor Wen had all of this produce and this big expensive box of assorted cheeses. Poor guy.

  2. thickcrust says:

    The tragedy is that you resorted to stoop-sitting with your neighbors. Apparently social order breaks down almost immediately in Williamsburg. I would have expected you to deal with a brief power outage in a slightly more civilized manner.

    • I thought stoop-sitting was the okay one and corner-store-hang-outing was the bad one. I’ve been sitting on stoops for years, Adam! I HAVE PICTURES OF MYSELF SITTING ON STOOPS.

  3. Ash says:

    Reminds me of my childhood in the Philippines. We used to have scheduled outages all the time, so you would see middle-aged ladies in front of their houses chatting and fanning themselves, and kids of all ages playing hide-and-seek outside. Because the best way to play that game (or get kidnapped by a serial killer) is outside, in the dark.

  4. Tessa says:

    I will remember that night — and you — forever.


  5. It always makes me happy when I get a mention on U.M.

    When the power goes out at night during the summer, I just resign myself to not sleeping, and it’s MISERABLE, especially because I turn into a psychotic bitch-beast when I’m sleep-deprived.

    That’s me, always willing to share my joy with others.

    • I think I owe you a backlog of 100 mentions, actually, but samesies!

      I just imagine you in bed, no electricity, with all manner of dog, cat, and fowl curled up against you as you stare at the ceiling, picturing the bitch-beast you’ll become the next day. It’s really a movie moment.

  6. Cristy says:

    That’s one of those experiences you just can’t plan (um, not that you’d WANT to sweat to death on purpose, but you know what I mean).

    Makes me think of that cheesey movie (which I own. shut up.) “The Butcher’s Wife” w/a blonde Demi Moore. Old ladies who think they’re witches dragging all their stuff out to the street so they can watch everybody’s business.

    • “And then one night, I saw him in my dream. Well, just a part of him, actually, but what a part.”

      The old ladies are a perfect representation of every single person in my hometown.