It rained this afternoon; it’s mostly stopped now. It’s a little windy. Yale has determined that it is too rainy and too windy for its precious students to set foot outside. After my column today, I received repeated warnings—from readers, friends, my dean and master—not to go outside during the storm, and especially not to go outside after the University’s curfew takes effect.
Berkeley College Master Marvin Chun issued a curfew starting at 3:00 this afternoon, but I decided to venture out anyway. Here’s what I saw:
2:56 p.m.: It’s raining—a harsh, persistent mist. The men who usually lie on the benches on the Green are gone, probably huddled up inside somewhere. A lone teenager in the middle of the Green rides a skateboard, does a few tricks, then picks up the board and walks off until his image fades into the mist.
3:20 p.m.: Most businesses have long since closed, but G-Heav is open and packed with people stocking up before the worst of the weather hits. Two workers say the plan is to stay open for the duration of the storm.
3:23 p.m.: Box 63 owner Carl Carbone plans on keeping his restaurant open no matter the weather. “We’re a restaurant that is here to service a community,” he says. “It’s irresponsible for us not to service that community when it’s at its greatest need.”
Of course, Carbone hasn’t completely ignored the storm’s existence; he started reordering his employees’ schedules on Friday to accommodate those who couldn’t work because they live far away or have children. He’s running the restaurant with a “skeleton crew.” And he grants that Yale is running a much bigger operation than Box 63, and it would be much harder for the University to keep its doors open.
Last year, Box was one of few New Haven establishments to stay open during Hurricane Irene, and Carbone said that day was one of the busiest of the year. Everyone needs to eat, and Carbone wants to keep his promises to his customers who count on him for food. “I think we’ll be slammed tonight,” he says.
3:44 p.m.: Ivy Noodle is open, too. “Because we are a Chinese restaurant, normally we have to open,” says manager Judy Chue. The staff all live a couple blocks away on Lake Place, she explains, and she would have to pay them even if the restaurant closed.
3:50 p.m.: The Study’s lobby is cozy. A crooner sings “Fly Me To the Moon” over the sound system, cashiers sell coffee and a family is gathered around a table playing board games, probably to the annoyance of the three people working on laptops.
3:54 p.m.: Groups of students, mostly in threes and fours, walk along Chapel Street, trying various businesses’ doors, looking for someone to let them in. They find the little bodega with no name posted between Howe and York. A man and I bond over our mutual disappointment when we discover that Dunkin’ Donuts is closed. He recommends that I try G-Heav.
3:57 p.m.: Insomnia Cookies is as delicious and open as ever, though the girl at the counter says she hopes they’ll be closed by 4:30.
10:17 p.m.: An Old Campus resident slips out the Elm Street gate, walks up to a white sedan and heads back inside to eat his Wenzel. Alpha Delta stops for nothing.
10:35 p.m.: In a phone interview, Carbone says customers started pouring in to Box 63 once the wind died down around 8:00 p.m. Most of his customers have been students living off campus who said they hadn’t prepared for the storm; he’s also seen guests from the Marriott Hotel.
One family from Virginia Beach, a town where hurricanes aren’t such a rare event, told Carbone they’re used to seeing parties at every bar when a storm hits.
Hurricanes, Carbone says, can bring people together. “In a kind of pathetic, voyeuristic way, people want to see the storm hit—the power of nature,” he said. “Bars traditionally have hurricane parties in beach towns. It creates camaraderie…When there’s a potential for tragedy, sitting home in the dark is hard to deal with, even in a storm as anticlimactic as this.”
11:03 p.m.: Police account for most of the cars on the street, but pedestrians have started to emerge. It’s not raining, nor is it really very windy anymore. Aside from the downed branches, it’s a beautiful night.
11:24 p.m.: Linda Lorimer was right: The metal and glass structure that was once the bus stop outside Woolsey is in fact lying on the ground, blocked off by yellow police tape. The glass is mostly intact. It’s pretty impressive.
11:30 p.m.: Carbone is taking a break outside his restaurant, talking to a group of people walking a dog. Upstairs in Box, 26 revelers, some in costumes, drink and celebrate.
11:36 p.m.: Ivy Noodle is dark. So much for Chinese restaurants always being open.
11:38 p.m.: G-Heav is still open. Seven customers peruse the shelves. As usual, a police car sits outside.
So goodnight to day one of Sandy. Let’s see what day two brings.
Julia Fisher is a senior in Berkeley College and a former opinion editor of the News.