I’ve dealt with many types of newspaper deadlines, but Hurricane Sandy was particularly challenging. Knowing that SN had an issue to get out, I wrote a story by candlelight one night in my darkened Long Island home. Thankfully, I was able to finish the story before my laptop’s battery quit.
That was the easy part. The challenge was finding a way to send it in to my editor. I tried Starbuck’s and other places known for being WiFi-friendly. No luck. Then I decided to try my local Waldbaum’s. The store was one of the few supermarkets on Long Island with power. People with weary eyes and ungroomed hair traveled from near and far to shop for water, bread and other necessary staples.
I grabbed the first worker I could find and asked if the store had “WiFi.” She wasn’t sure, but said she thought I was in luck because many customers were gathering with their computers in the store’s café.
I walked into the café with my laptop in hand. While the store did not have a WiFi of its own, it did have access to a “hot spot.” Problem was, I needed to be a registered user with a password.
I approached a couple in their 70s surfing the Internet on their iPad. I explained my predicament, and asked if they would provide me with their password for five minutes so that I could send in my story. They happily agreed. So I recharged my laptop and accessed the Internet via the café’s conveniently located outlets. Viola! — story successfully sent.
I started talking to the couple about why they chose Waldbaum’s as their home base. They told me it was a comfortable place with power and plenty of food, so why not?
Turns out, this supermarket helped the community in many other ways. Not only was it a place where people could get food and water, it became a hub where neighbors gathered in the aisles to talk about damage to their homes and the inconvenience of not having power.
The store was adequately stocked with food. It also had plenty of cashiers on staff. There wasn’t even a long wait at the checkout.
Thank you, Waldbaum’s of Deer Park, New York, for being there when I needed you.