Forced to evacuate, Savannah and I spent Sunday and Monday camped out at the Pennsylvania Hotel. A typical 7-year-old, she believed the place was haunted. I suspected a more serious problem: snakes under the bed.
A rundown joint directly facing Madison Square Garden, the hotel’s bad beds and cramped, airless rooms reminded me of my Lonely Planet days. The only thing missing was the stoned backpackers wearing tie-dye T-shirts.
The place was packed with rowdy, young Europeans, plucked from the stands of a Southampton soccer match, and shady dudes seeking a fix. As gales of wind whipped through Manhattan, at one point shattering the hotel’s front doors, Savannah and I played in the hall. There she practiced cartwheels and made silly iPhone videos, and we tried to ignored the loud howling winds and hooligans.
When disaster strikes, New York morphs into this warm, generous place. That wasn’t happening at the Hotel Pennsylvania. On Tuesday, despite my single mom / Zone A status, the hotel was going to triple the rate, with or without snakes.
Minutes upon leaving the hotel I was embraced by the New York I love.
“I live right uptown. Let me put it in my frig,” a cabbie insisted upon hearing my concerns about thousands of dollars of medicine in my frig going bad.
My concierge, shocked to see me return, greeted me warmly and promptly handed me a mini flashlight. My neighbors, likewise, stopped in the stairwell to share their Hurricane Sandy stories.
Later, a friend called and offered to come from Brooklyn to check on me and another provided a shower and a beer. In Battery Park, complete strangers asked: “Do you have electricity?”
Lower Manhattan is eerie and dark, and I’m the only one on the 10th floor in my building. But the sheets are clean and I don’t have to worry about getting hit by a beer bottle should Brighton loses Sunday’s soccer match.