Monday, August 17, 2009

Terror at 135 Feet

Found this old story from a few years ago (2006) when I and a coworker decided to cross the Brooklyn Bridge in the middle of a thunderstorm. My friend Allen has since moved away, I no longer work at this job but I'm sure I wasn't the last person to get caught on the bridge during a storm.

Yesterday, my old friend Allen (from my long lost UMASS days) invited me over for dinner. We’d both been feeling a bit down lately, career wise and personally so it afforded a chance to get together. I knew I’d probably get stuck watching the Will and Grace series finale, but what the hell. I’d gladly have to endure that so I could see an old friend.

Whenever I have gone to see Allen in the past, I’ve taken the subway so I never really saw much of Brooklyn, just Court Street and Atlantic Avenue but yesterday was a gorgeous spring day, sunny and warm. I love Brooklyn and thought what a great day to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge. I had these grand ideas in my mind of walking over the bridge with the blue sky above me, seeing Manhattan behind me, Brooklyn ahead of me. And I probably even imagined it set to the tune of the Mary Tyler Moore theme, with all the gender specific pronouns changed to fit me. Yeah, this walk was just what I needed.

The only problem was I wasn’t sure how to get to the bridge from where I worked, so I asked Heather, a woman whom I work with how to get there. A few minutes later Heather came up and said she’d walk over the bridge with me; despite having been born and raised in Brooklyn she only had walked over the bridge twice and both times it was for emergency reasons: the blackout of ’03 and the Transit Strike back in December.

We left about five and the clouds were gathering and the sun wasn’t shining any more. The forecast I read said that there was rain due but not until about 6. I figured if we hit the bridge about 5:15, we’d have plenty of time. For those not familiar with the Bridge, the walkway for pedestrians and bikers is OVER the traffic. It’s pretty amazing and it also allows the views to be unobstructed by trucks and what have you. About five minutes into our walk, we felt a few drops but I figured it would pass. The dark clouds were above us but it was already lighter in the west so I figured we were fine. I did notice that to the South, it was pretty dark and things were obscured. And then it hit. Suffice it to say that for the next hour, Heather and I were trapped on the Brooklyn Bridge in the middle of a fierce, nasty hurricane-like thunderstorm. Once you’re on the bridge, you’re pretty trapped. You can either go back to Manhattan or forward to Brooklyn but there are no shortcuts. The rain was HORIZONTAL. I didn’t have my umbrella but Heather had some Disney Tigger umbrella that broke the minute she opened it and the wind hit it. All we could do was use it as a shield. We were drenched and I had puddles in my shoes.

We reached the first arch and huddled with a bunch of other people who’d been caught in the storm. After twenty minutes, the rain seemed to be easing up so we decided to walk on. The minute we walked out from under the arch, the storm howled right back up as though it had been laying in wait. Now I know why people give hurricanes names, as though they do have human characteristics of malice. Once again, we were trapped and this time the umbrella did half the work it did before. Again with the torrential rain and this time, we saw lightning. After forever, we reached the second arch and stood there with more people. We stayed under the second arch even longer because this time the rain was not letting up. WE did manage to befriend a poor tourist from Amsterdam who was soaked to the bone and gave him suggestions as to what to see in the city. Thank God he didn’t get wise to us and ask, “If you know the city so well, how come you crossed the Bridge when it looked as though it may rain?” I wouldn’t have had an answer for that.

The rain eventually tapered off, we got off the bridge and went our separate ways. Too bad for me, I was wet the rest of the entire night and my shoes may never recover. I was not the first person to be caught on the bridge in a storm, and this won’t even be my last time walking across it but next time, I’m making sure that there aren’t even slight vapor trails in the sky.

I was never a huge fan of Will and Grace to begin with and enduring the final episode while damp was not a fun experience. And poor Heather, she has yet to cross the bridge in a normal manner.


  1. lol - sorry to have made you watch Will & Grace in wet clothes . . . but at least you didn't have to wear your shoes since I made you take them off at the door. Funny, i wasn't such a Will & Grace fan either, but I thought it would be historic . . . i miss living in the same city as you.

  2. Miss you as well. Very much so.