I have a pretty hectic schedule in the fall. Between watching football, writing about football and making fun of fat people in this section, I barely have any time for sleep. I get 4-5 hours most nights. So, with that in mind, I don't get to watch the news at all, so I seldom hear about anything important before it's too late.
I was writing a preview for the Eagles-Falcons game and decided to check the weather - only because Atlanta, a dome team, would potentially be playing in poor conditions. Weather.com told me that there was going to be rain, heavy winds in the 30-mph range and temperatures in the lower 50s.
I was bummed out. Because I sit in front of my computer and TV all day Sunday, I like to take a walk around my neighborhood beforehand just to get some semblance of sunlight and exercise. I wouldn't be able to do that amid the heavy rain and wind. I don't even like to go anywhere when it's rainy. Because I'm fortunate enough to work at home, I don't leave my house most days when there's any sort of precipitation - even if it means skipping going to the bar with my friends. Hey, I'm an old, fat man who doesn't like to get wet, and I don't feel like I have to apologize for that.
A day later, I saw some people talking about a potential hurricane coming toward the mid-Atlantic and New England. That, of course, would be Hurricane Sandy, which was referred to as the "Katrina of the Northeast" by one meteorologist on the local NBC network.
Because I heard about Hurricane Sandy after everyone else and didn't fully realize its magnitude until it was too late, I wasn't fully prepared. I would have purchased a generator ahead of time, but they were all sold by Saturday. In fact, the only thing I was able to purchase, aside from the essentials - bread, milk, bottled water, batteries, Cheetos - was a crappy battery backup from Staples. If my power went out, I'd get to charge my Verizon hot spot for 50 whole minutes! Huzzah!
Hurricane Sandy arrived Sunday morning and departed Tuesday, leaving hundreds dead and billions of dollars' worth of damage in her wake. Oh, and she also provided some Jerks of the Week material for me. Here are the Jerks of Hurricane Sandy:
1. The U.S. Government
If you lost your house, your business, or in the worst-case scenario, a loved one to Hurricane Sandy, you can blame the U.S. government. Not because they didn't dispatch assistance in time, or anything like that - but because they could have easily prevented Hurricane Sandy from even happening.
What? How could the government have stopped a hurricane, you ask? Well, I don't know why the mainstream media isn't talking about this, but the United States has the technology to completely eliminate hurricanes. It's true. If you've read Super Freakonomics you know what I'm talking about. If not, buy the book and turn to page 161.
A quick summary: They've invented these jelly-like tubes that can be built in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Hurricanes are formed when the top of the ocean is warm, so what these tubes do is funnel the warm water down so the cooler water can rise. And boom - just like that, no hurricanes ever again. Something like this, according to the book, is estimated to cost $1 billion, but given that there is a yearly average of $10 billion worth of damage from hurricanes in the United States, I'd say it's a pretty good bargain.
So why isn't anyone saying anything about this? Why wasn't this brought up during one of the two presidential debates? Instead, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney talked about stupid stuff, like women's equality in the workplace***. Like, what's there to debate about with that? Is any presidential candidate ever going to say, "I believe that women shouldn't be treated as well as men in the workplace?" That's a great way to lose an election.
*** Note - I don't think everything should be completely equal in the workplace. Women have made it known that they don't want to be sexually harassed at work, and that's understandable. However, we men do want to be sexually harassed. It would be great if women sexually harassed us at work. I've been allowed to speak for my entire gender - save for the heterosexually challenged - and I can solemnly promise that we will be more productive if this happens.
I don't even know why people watch the presidential debates anyway. You know where the Democratic candidate is going to stand. You know what the Republican candidate is going to say. So, does it really matter who's the master debater between the two? And would it kill whoever's running the debate to find a better moderator? The fat woman in the second debate was very unpleasant - perhaps because she was forced to work instead of being able to eat her fourth dinner that night.
2. Flying Chairs and Falling Trees
The hurricane was supposed to get really bad Sunday evening. Well, nothing really happened at that point. I went to bed 6 a.m. that night and there was only a slight drizzle and barely any wind. I opened my front door to make sure, and upon seeing pleasant conditions, I shouted, "Ha! Hurricane Sandy ain't s**t!" One of my neighbors, who was getting ready for work, heard me and gave me a quizzical look.
Twelve hours later, I was regretting ever laughing at Sandy. She was in full force Monday evening. It wasn't raining too hard, but the wind was unbelievably strong. I thought my windows were going to shatter on several occasions.
My sister stacked the deck chairs in my backyard together so they wouldn't blow away, but I heard a weird, scratching sound coming from outside. It was the chairs, and they were blowing in the wind as if they were leaves. I quickly sprinted down my stairs and went into the backyard to chase them down. I somehow salvaged them all, though someone's table nearly hit me. I don't know whose it was, so I just left it outside. Based on how strong the wind was, it probably wound up in Ohio.
My power went out around 8 p.m. - just half an hour prior to Monday Night Football. I was still able to use my laptop and Internet, but there was no way I'd be able to watch a live stream of the game for the full three hours because my hot spot wouldn't last that long. I was upset I didn't have one of those fancy smart phones - but only for a second. I remembered how pretentious those a**holes are in the Samsung Galaxy S III commercial, and I suddenly became happy with my Internet-less phone.
I used my Internet-less phone to call my parents. They still had electricity, so my mom asked if I wanted to stay there until my power came back on. I'd be able to watch the game and do work there, so it was a no-brainer, but what about driving through a hurricane? Well, by the time I left my house at 9:30, the wind was slightly weaker than it was when I was chasing chairs in my backyard. I drove slowly because the roads were slippery, but I still nearly crashed into two small trees that collapsed. I had my windshield wipers on, so I didn't seem the right away, so I had to swerve both times.
Meanwhile, a light near my parents' house was facing the wrong way. I ran a red light in confusion and realized it as soon as I crossed the intersection. Luckily, there were no other drivers near me. No one was crazy enough to drive in the storm, but then again, I'm one of only a few people nuts enough to risk his safety to watch a football game.
And a horrible football game, at that. The 49ers beat the Cardinals, 24-3, and I lost $220 because I bet on the loser. At least I didn't need that $220 to buy new deck furniture.
For those unfamiliar with PECO, it stands for Philadelphia Electric Company. Reportedly, 800,000 PECO customers lost power during the hurricane. I'm not going to criticize PECO for that because there's nothing it could have done. What I am going to chide PECO for is its crappy customer service.
I called PECO when my electricity was cut off to report a power outage. The automated machine told me to visit peco.com for status updates. I did so two hours later, a bit after arriving at my parents' house, and I saw this:
So, I'd have to wait either 2011 years in the past or 7989 years in the future? That's a s*** load of patience that you're thanking me for.
I called PECO again a bit later. The automated machine told me to call back at noon the next day for an update. I tried again at noon and was told to check in at 4. The Web site said the same thing. So, I waited until 4 and phoned in once more. This time, I received a message saying, "all circuits are busy; please try again later." The site, meanwhile, didn't update its message. I logged on at 7 p.m. and it still said, "We will have an update on your status by 4 p.m." Did they mean Pacific Time? Because they were even late on that deadline.
I posted my frustration on Twitter. I received several responses; one from @MadRussian73:
@walterfootball millons would be happy to have power by the end of the week.Stop crying.Those men and women are working 24/7
Someone, come quickly and clean the sand out of this man's vag!
Seriously, I was merely complaining about Peco's poor customer service. If the company can't give a status update by a certain time, then it shouldn't promise that it would. And why doesn't PECO hire someone to pick up the damn phone?
Well, I wasn't mad at PECO for much longer because my power was restored around 10 p.m. I guess it's a good thing that it had its workers trying to fix the problem rather than update the Web site.
Philadelphians were lucky that Hurricane Sandy didn't hit it too badly. New York, New Jersey and Delaware suffered immensely, however. Parts of those states were underwater. This includes my girlfriend Awesome Girl Who Loves Football's roommate's parents' house.
Awesome Girl Who Loves Football told me that her roommate's parents, who have a house in New Jersey, saw sharks actually swimming in front of their house. That's how high the water level was.
I was instantly jealous because one of my long-term goals is to build a moat surrounding my house and fill it with hungry sharks. So, if an undesirable person comes by, like a Jehovah's Witness or an IRS agent looking to audit me, I can just dump them into my moat and have my pet sharks have my way with them. The best thing is that I wouldn't even get into trouble; I could just say they happened to accidentally slipped into my moat.
5. Saladworks Power Outage
Don't get me wrong though - some areas of Philadelphia were greatly affected by Hurricane Sandy. This includes a commercial strip near my house which contains the Saladworks that I frequent multiple times per week. Here's how I found out about this:
My Mom: So, I was driving in your neighborhood today and I saw that the stores near Bustleton and Street Road are closed because they have no power.
Me: Wait... wait... wait... is Saladworks closed too? Please don't tell me that Saladworks is closed!
My Mom: Yes, Saladworks is closed.
I've noted multiple times that it's my goal to lose to lose 0.1 pounds per week until I'm down to 165. That's why I was so upset about Saladworks not being open. How am I going to drop a tenth of a pound each week if I can't eat their yummy salads with extra delicious salad dressing?
This reminds me - everyone knows me at Saladworks. The lady in her mid-50s who works the register knows my name and which type of roll I like. She also knows where I go to the gym...
Cashier: Hey, Walt, do you go to the gym right around the corner from here?
Me: Yeah, how'd you know what?
Cashier: Oh, one of the girls says she always sees you there.
The girl she pointed to was some brunette chick who wears a gold chain around her neck with her name on it. I was confused though because I never saw her at my new gym. She's always working at Saladworks, so I would've recognized her - so why has she always seen me and yet I've never seen her?
Do I have a stalker? If so, I'm very flattered. I like the idea of being stalked. It makes me feel wanted. Plus, it also makes me feel better about a situation a friend of mine was in recently. He allegedly stalked a girl and she filed a restraining order against him. That was a horrifying day for me. I mean him.
I was hoping that Hurricane Sandy would linger into Wednesday evening so that there would be no Trick-or-Treaters - that way, I'd be able to eat all of the candy that I purchased NOM NOM NOM NOM!!!
Unfortunately, Sandy did not cooperate, and the kids began ringing my doorbell around 6 p.m. I have three things of note about this year's Trick-or-Treaters:
1. I had to answer my door about 10-12 times Wednesday evening which seemed like a lot less than last year. In fact, I have many Kit-Kats and bags of Skittles remaining, which I will consume shortly.
I asked my mom if she had many kids at her house, and she said no because parents were probably hesitant to send their kids out, given that there might be giant branches on the ground and stuff like that.
If this is the case, I think these parents need to be deported. It's freaking Halloween - one of the best nights of the year if you're a kid. I cherished every single Halloween growing up. I was always delighted when some stranger opened his or her door and dumped delicious candy into my bag. It was the best feeling in the world - and I couldn't even imagine it being ripped away from me just because of some stupid branches.
If my parents prevented me from going out on Halloween, I'd probably be in a mental institution right now. You think I'm kidding, but I'm definitely telling the truth. Oh, and the kids that didn't go out this year? I guarantee that at least 83 percent of them will grow up to become serial killers who will murder people with giant branches. Good job, cautious parents.
2. Three older guys came to my door around 8 p.m. I couldn't tell how old they were because they were wearing masks. They were pretty tall though, so they were at least 15 or 16 - well above the cut-off age for Trick-or-Treaters.
Look, as a fat man, I'm all for securing free candy, but it's pathetic to beg someone for candy when you're old enough to have a job and buy candy yourself. Candy used to be this magical thing when I was a kid, and it still is, but I can just waltz over to Bottom Dollar any time I want and buy as much candy as I please. These guys could probably do the same, but I still gave them some candy because I didn't want them egging my house or anything.
3. One of the people who knocked on my door was the Indian kid who fooled me into buying cookie dough instead of actual cookies a year ago. For those wondering - and I know thousands of you are - the cookie dough is still sitting in my fridge. I have no idea what to do with it. Do I put it in the microwave? Do I boil it in hot water? How do you even boil water anyway? I'm at a complete loss.
I couldn't believe this a**hole showed his face at my door - and to make matters worse, he had a bogus costume on; all he wore was a tie around his sweatshirt. Oh, and he had the nerve to ask me for extra candy. Here's how it went...
Cookie Thief: Trick or Treat!
Me: Oh... it's you. I can't believe I'm doing this, but here's your candy.
Cookie Thief: Oh, can I have two bags of Skittles for my sister?
Me: Ugh, fine.
Cookie Thief: Oh, and can I have two Kit-Kats for my brother?
I grumbled and begrudgingly tossed two Kit-Kats into his bag. He walked away without saying thanks, which was no surprise. And that's when it hit me: That shark-infested moat I'm coveting would have been extremely useful at that moment.