New England is a benighted region. It’s not coincidental that H. P. Lovecraft was from here. Even though I’m not a native New Englander I have now lived the majority of my life here and so I had the honor to ride the Hurricane Bob Express back in 1991. Bob was the last hurricane to actually make landfall as a hurricane in New England so it’s remembered fondly.
Back then I was a hot-shot process engineer working for an engineering company that had been purchased by one of the major defense contractors and therefore had plenty of money for plane fare. We had a processing plant in Cape May NJ that needed an operational audit prior to submitting a proposal to modernize the plant. You would have thought that a hurricane coming up the east coast was a good enough reason to postpone the trip. You would have thought wrong.
So, there I was early on the morning of August 19th 1991 sitting on the tarmac of Boston’s Logan Airport with several of my associates waiting to take off for the relatively short trip to southern New Jersey. Several of the passengers including the fellow sitting next to me on the flight were nervous. I on the other hand have always felt that since I have virtually zero control over what happens once I sit down in a plane, there’s really no sense in worrying. So, I was reading a book.
There was a substantial delay on the tarmac while the tower decided whether to cancel the flight. We could see that the wind and rain were pretty awful outside the plane. Finally, the decision was made to take off and away we went. The stewardesses began moving down the aisle taking drink orders when we hit the brunt of the storm. The sensation was like a mechanical bull. The plane bucked up and down for several minutes with even a little lateral motion to make it really interesting. I experienced a giddiness like you get on a roller coaster and actually found myself laughing out loud. The personal experience of the other passengers definitely varied. There was a good amount of spirited screaming. The poor stewardesses got the worst of it. They were flung out of the aisle onto the passengers. Their heavy metal cart jumped around but stayed right side up. The girls eventually beat a hasty retreat to the end of the aisle and stayed there.
But the funniest thing was that the passengers kept hitting their call buzzers. They wanted their drinks. Apparently, they needed the booze right away. Finally, the head stewardess starting screaming over the PA system to order them to stop hitting the buzzers. It was quite a scene. I think my neighbor was praying. He had his head down and his eyes shut.
Twenty minutes later we were back in the sunshine and when we landed shortly after that it was hot and sunny. The hurricane seemed to have scrubbed everything clean and it was a beautiful day. We did our work and caught a flight home that night. Hurricane Bob was long gone but he had left his mark. There was no power or phones and the bus I was supposed to take wasn’t running.
I ended up taking a subway train to a commuter train to a bus station and took a bus to a stop where I could walk down a road for about two miles to where my car was parked. By the time I got home Camera Girl had given me up for dead but was willing to break out some food and drink for the conquering hero. Thus ended my adventure in hurricane bronco busting. Not exactly Pecos Bill material but highly entertaining.
So now Hurricane Henri is teed up. Once again, it’s a hurricane with a guy’s name which is sort of disreputable to start with. And it’s French which adds insult to injury. It’s going to be a Category One Storm so far. But the track is going to be dead center on target to where I live which kind of stinks. But we’ve got a generator, plenty of food and water and an emergency of this sort provides a manly man such as myself with the opportunity to impress his damsel in distress with his prowess at fighting the raw power of nature head on. Plus, we have pop-corn and a DVD player if things really get dicey. Well, here’s to survival. At least I’m not in Kabul.