The funny thing is that hardly anything happened in my neighborhood in Queens — the power was still on, there was no flooding. It was actually kind of beautiful and placid outside. But here, miles from all the flood zones, where you have crews working around the clock, here you have this one man, methodically doing his work, anticipating the next disaster.
A long time ago, I was in Calcutta, walking down the street, and it starts raining, and in less than an hour, I'd say, we find ourselves wading through thigh-high water —and the one thing that kept me focused, was fear: not so much a fear of drowning, but of whatever effluents, and organic chunks, and creepy underwater organisms were surely working their way up my pants. But of course, for the locals, they're all blasé, like hey, it's just another day in Calcutta — what's the big deal? Don't be such an American, and so on.
If you hang out with a fair number of immigrants in this city, as I do, or you know a lot of people who live in other countries, you've probably heard something like that before — that we Americans, or we New Yorkers have this absurd and completely disproportionate reaction to the most inconsequential matters, things like...bed bugs.
But there is a flip side to that, and I think it's worth recalling at moments like this — when something genuinely big does happen.
When I returned from my morning walk back to my apartment in…