November 02, 2012
NEW YORK—Trains and buses have shut down, people have been evacuated from eastern New Jersey and the southern tip of Manhattan, and as of this writing Hurricane Sandy has hit and hit hard.
Sixty-five million residents in the Northeast have been affected, hospital generators have failed, and skeleton crews have carried out seriously ill patients in the middle of the night. Supermarkets are empty, their shelves stripped by people who for once took warnings to heart. Flashlights, ropes, batteries, and other such contraptions are sold out, the streets resemble Nevil Shute’s On The Beach, and constant TV bulletins are warning that the world as we know it is about to end.
Staten Island is underwater, as are parts of New Jersey and Long Island. I went to judo practice and a giant crane collapsed next to the club, sending everyone fleeing. Like the kid in the film Land of Hope and Glory that thanked Adolf for bombing his school during the war, I thanked Sandy for postponing my torture.
The Northeast has been shut down for two days and it will take another two to open up. The stock market is closed—not a bad thing—as are all modes of transport. An uprooted tree crushed my poor maid’s house in Queens and she’s homeless.
But let’s put some things in perspective. The Japanese got hit not once but twice with atomic bombs, and five years later they were producing better cars than Detroit—not hard to do, I grant you. Less than 20 years later Tokyo came up with one of the greatest Olympics ever. Eleven years after the Twin Towers went down I am certain there are New Yorkers still huddling in some basement, hiding in case Muhammad strikes again. The only two men who drove in from Jersey this morning to work were two Greek barbers, Panayotis and Dimitris, unlike most Puerto Rican laborers who spend mañana in bed. Sociologists the world over ask, “Why is it that Greeks outside Greece prosper?” Ditto for the Orientals. The Korean grocer is unpleasant but ever-present.
Well, that’s an easy one. But first I’ll tell you what Chinese and Greek government officials have in common: stealing. An American newspaper has accused Chinese premier Wen Jiabao of having amassed billions while in power, and we all know that the easiest way to riches in the birthplace of electrolysis is the Greek Parliament.
Outside their respective countries, both races do well, the Chinese better than most. They are one of the highest earning, best educated, and fastest growing racial groups in America the Beautiful, but their sense of humor is less than zero. They also do lousy laundry. They are also unfriendly, not that Chinese women race my motor.
Greek Americans talk too loudly just like the folks back home, but they are honest, religious, and family minded.
But I’m getting away from Sandy, the hurricane to end all storms.