On this day in (present) history, in chronological history:
The San Francisco Giants win their 2nd World Series Title in 3 years. Duh.
Sandy is acomin’. Fierce.
Mayor Bloomberg cancels NYC public schools for the second day in a row. Whee.
Stock trading may be closed for the second day in a row. Forever, please.
With Sandy now just a mere 260 miles away (disclaimer: not real-time blogging), I can’t help but think about a similar time just a little bit more than a year ago. Hurricane Irene, meet Hurricane Sandy. Be nice, ladies.
Excluding the El Niño seasons of my California childhood, Hurricane Irene 2011 was my first brush with tropical storm weather. Preparing for what could’ve been a far more dangerous natural disaster than what it actually turned out to be, was my first insight to how people prepare and react in the face of a city lockdown. Specifically, New Yorkers. On the list of the things to do when preparing for a possible state of emergency:
1. Buy alcohol- New Yorkers really like to put the “shitstorm” in the word “storm” and forego “hydration” and “life-sustaining water” in the word ” appropriate-emergency-preparation”.
2. Actually, that’s really it.
However, unlike with Irene, when I was living with Manhattan, I’m now experiencing Sandy as a Brooklynite. Although neither boroughs have differed on the most pertinent necessities (candles, flashlights, bread, bottled water, etc.), there were definitely small differences in storm reparation strategies. Notably the following:
1. Buying organic groceries- In one regard, this makes complete sense. If I’m going to be stuck inside for an indefinite amount of time, I want to make sure I have access to fresh kale. And if I’m really stuck inside for a long time, lightly salted kale chips sounds like a really fun baking activity. On the other hand, this logic also helped me better understand the utter disdain the general public has for hipsters and yuppies (are these two not synonyms anymore?). In the case that Hurricane Sandy really reaches truly dire levels of danger, fresh, locally-sourced, non-GMO produce can’t possibly beat out a non-perishable can of Chef Boyardee spaghetti meatballs.
2. Judging people lined outside of Trader Joe’s- I was at a small grocery store across the street from the Brooklyn Trader Joe’s (which had a line going out the door and spilling into the sidewalk), when I heard a Cobble Hill mommy cooing to her six-year old child, “Oh, look at all those people lined outside of Trader Joe’s… All that wait, just for frozen food! But look! Here! A delicious, fresh red macintosh apple from Upstate NY! Yay!” This was my first poignant moment when I realized that this is how educated elitism digs its evil Patagonia-wearing, food-composting claws into innocent, young children. I used to just think that there was something in the California water that did this to people.
3. Getting in a last bicycle ride- I was biking down Vanderbilt when I looked at all the other riders around me, wondering why the hell they weren’t in their homes, bunkering down for the imminent disaster about to hit to NYC? Idiots.
Now being a former Economics student, I’ve always found myself drawn towards the economic cycles and trends that stem from both ordinary and outlier events. (In other words, I also secretly read Malcolm Gladwell in my bathroom, but hide it away when friends come over.) As I biked down the emptying streets of Brooklyn yesterday, I started thinking about all of the potential economic consequences of Hurricane Sandy:
1. Increased sales in alcohol and liquor stores. An immediate boost on this quarter’s earnings, most likely enough to sustain an increased profit until at least next quarter.
2. Therefore, a slight outlier increase in the sales trend for wine companies, beer corporations, hard liquor distilleries, and manufacturers of alcoholic mixers. Considering how many New Yorkers are regular drinkers and therefore the possibly significant percentage that New Yorkers are in the make-up of the customer pool for alcohol manufacturers, today could be a potentially interesting data point to analyze when looking back on this day in history. (I know “interesting” is a subjective word to use here.)
3. Increased online shopping profits. What’s a girl to do when everything is closed, Netflix has yet to improve their “Watch Instantly” selection, when she’s watched every episode of Modern Family (twice) already, and everything is 20% off on Banana Republic?
4. Increased book, e-book, and magazine sales. Although it normally proves to be painfully difficult to read a book, something about hurricane screams, “Read that book you’ve always wanted to read!” Of course, the newly purchased book will probably not get read, unless you live in Brooklyn.
On another note, a very serious question I’ve been pondering is whether porn magazines such as Playboy or Hustler increase in sales also during natural disasters? When men (or women, no discrimination here) go into emergency mode, does some signal go off in the brain telling them to purchase pictures of big boobies in case they lose readily available access to them in an emergency state?
5. Increased canned goods sales.
6. Increased energy bar sales.
7. Increased packaged hot chocolate sales.
8. Increased illegal movie streaming.
9. Increased illegal music downloading.
Now, moving beyond the economic consequences of an emergency state and into that social and behavioral realm, when I think from a bird’s eye view, the many hundreds of things that people are doing today, I imagine the following:
1. Newly budding romances who thought a sexy slumber party would be fun, but is now proving to be a terribly poor decision, especially after Bloomberg announced that the city shutdown is actually being extended into Tuesday and both parties realized 12 hours ago that they weren’t interested in the other person anymore.
2. Even fewer romances being affirmed that the other person might really be the one. If playing Scrabble is this fun with him/her, maybe playing House will be heaven.
2. Medical, law, college, and graduate students praying a sigh of relief to Allah for providing a free day to really party hard. And by party hard, I mean memorize the molecular cell structure of a water molecule when it is in a state of condensation.
3. Teachers grading papers and making lesson plans for the lesson that was supposed to be taught… today.
4. People texting old accquantainces out of sheer boredom. “Hey, it’s been too long! Let’s get some post-Hurricane drinks!” (I got my first post-Hurricane text last night already.)
5. People going through archived emails and writing birthday cards of friends whose birthdays had passed 3 months ago. “I’m so sorry it’s taken forever to get back to you, but things have been so crazy! It took a freaking hurricane to find some down time….”
6. Increased traffic on OkCupid and other online dating sites for single (or swinging) urbanites. Nothing like a storm to make you wish that you were cuddled next to that special someone!
Hurricane Sandy, be chill.