My trip to New York last week was a disaster. Almost literally, as I think some portions of upstate New York were declared federal disaster areas. When I left LA Saturday morning the weather forecast called for cold and partial clouds — no snow — for most of the week, including Wednesday afternoon’s hurried drive from Binghamton back up to Rochester for an 8pm reading there. Nothing to worry about. That night’s 11pm newscast was the first time I heard about an approaching storm, and even then the weatherman said just that: “A few inches, nothing to worry about.”
But by Tuesday it had gone from a few inches to the biggest storm in years — for Rochester, actually, the third-most snow ever recorded in a single day. Everything was cancelled, including both of my events, and my flight back to LA, leaving me stuck at my mother’s house an extra five days. It wasn’t so bad, though — a wasted trip that would leave me even further behind at work, but at least I got to spend some time with family.
I planned on relaxing, spending the afternoons at our local coffee shop, basking in free WiFi by the fire, drinking the best chai lattes on the planet. On Friday I logged in to check my email, and I couldn’t access it. At first I thought it was just the connection on my antique laptop, but when I tried logging in to our web host’s control panel, I realized the entire site was locked. For some reason it said it was a billing issue, though I knew for sure that we’re paid up. So I trudged out to the phone booth in my sneakers and hoodie and stood in the arctic wind talking to customer service, alternating ears on the phone so I wouldn’t get frostbite. Turns out it wasn’t billing at all — we’d been hacked again, and this time it was a malicious phishing scam that had added a fake Capital One login page to our site. The account would be unlocked until I removed that page, and tried to figure out a way to keep it from happening again. (Hackers, if you’re reading this, let me know how you got in, so I can make sure you can’t do it again, kay?)
So that was annoying, probably cost us a hundred dollars in business, and some deity seemed to be making it damn well clear that I wasn’t supposed to get any work done while out of town.
I went back inside, sat by the fire to thaw out, and worked on a pretty crappy short story I’d started that morning. I was about a paragraph away from the crappy ending, when a car crashed through the front of the restaurant and almost killed me.
“Almost killed me” in this case is probably hyperbole — it wasn’t going all that fast as it slammed through the plate glass window and headed straight for me, but there’s nothing hyperbolic about a car crashing through a building. I stood up, about to jump on the hood if I had to, and the coffee table banged against my leg. But the car, a Honda SUV, stopped about two feet away, knocking my treasured chai latte over Hicok’s Insomnia Diary.
The driver was out of it — either just in shock, or stoned, I’m not sure. We had to yell at her to turn the car off; she just sat there with it running, right next to the gas fire place like that was the plan all along. The fire trucks came, and the police. An EMT took my blood pressure and pulse, which were both low, and made fun of me for being “dead inside.” I had to sign a waiver not to go to the hospital for the silly little cut on my leg.
All in all, I thought it was pretty hilarious. After we got the woman to shut her car off, I started laughing, which I feel a bit bad about, because it hadn’t occurred to me at the time that she could have had a heart attack or stroke that caused the accident. There were no bloody bodies, so it seemed funny.
Before I left, I took some pictures:
After a few blissfully uneventful days, I landed back at LAX, only to find that I’d left the dome light on in my car, so had to wander around with all my luggage asking for a jump. I found someone and started up, but after driving my mother’s car all week with her weird clutch, I immediately stalled and had to ask for a second jump. The anti-theft feature in my stereo required a code I didn’t have, so I drove home in silence, praying at every stoplight not to stall.
And thus resumed the exciting life of a poetry editor.