At 7:30 this morning, the supermarket was packed. I felt bad for an elderly man who had a huge stack of frozen dinners – “They were on sale,” he told the cashier.
“What if your power goes out?” I said.
“Ah, I’ll be fine.”
Then I went to the Home Depot, which was a lot less crowded, but still pretty crowded for early Sunday morning. There, I had the happy task of buying a 5-gallon bucket with lid, as I was instructed by a friend who’d been through extended power outages. For what? Don’t ask.
Last night, I bought a few bags of ice at the local convenience store. “If this runs out tomorrow, are you getting more Monday?” I asked.
“Oh yeah, we’ll get more. I don’t know why everybody’s buying so much ice.”
“Because of the big storm. We’re going to have power outages,” I told her.
“But only for a day, right?”
“They’re saying to prepare for at least a week,” I said.
Her eyes got big. “But I have a baby on an apnea monitor,” she said.
I didn’t know what to say; she was doing shift work at a convenience store, I knew she couldn’t afford a backup generator.
“The hospitals always have power,” I told her. “If you have a problem, call them.” I didn’t know what else to say. In a visceral way, I really got it: The working-poor folks who went through Katrina were too busy holding their lives together to deal with a hurricane. Who has time to watch the news?