Since I got back from my trip to Africa a few weeks ago, all I’ve been thinking about is how lucky I am to be from a first-world country. Appreciating basic living standards was something I learned very quickly while I was there. And if there was any fear that I would forget the appreciation I learned on Mount Kilimanjaro, Hurricane Sandy has provided a sobering reminder.
My personal situation was nothing of much consequence, I will admit. After I lost power, the biggest personal issue I faced was eating all the ice cream in my freezer so it wouldn’t go to waste. Still, when I got back to work on the first day that our office had power, it seemed like the world was very different. Everybody had a story, a photo, something personal to share about Sandy’s impact on their lives.
But when I finally got the Internet back, it was amazing to me how other parts of the country were going on with life as usual. I was reading CNN and was completely fascinated by the fact that people in, say, Florida didn’t have anything to worry about other than the latest sports scores and how the presidential race was going. Of course, as we all know, it was quite another story here.
I have never seen gas lines in the Hamptons. I’ve never personally experienced a gas shortage, and luckily I haven’t needed to worry much about using my car since I live and work in Southampton. But I know I am in the minority. Maybe by the time you are reading this, gas stations are all open, and cars are not lined up for nearly a mile down County Road 39. And maybe you are like me, amazed at how quickly gas stations can run out of gasoline, how an interruption in delivery schedules for even a day or two can mean a sign goes up reading CLOSED NO GAS. It puts into perspective how the things that you think will always be there can one day disappear in a swift blow.
I believe the term is reality check. I think all of us on the East End have had one of those. It’s made me appreciate even more how lucky we are here. And it’s made me think. I used to believe, some time ago, that people who talked about global warming and advocated the idea that none of us should drive cars and instead bike and walk had a point. But the truth is that gas is vital to our everyday lives. Still, look at the extreme weather we’ve seen, like the storm that just came through, and it kind of makes you wonder if the earth is trying to strike back at us for burning too many things on this planet.
I hope that is not the case. But even if it is, all of us will still fill up
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