Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Trip out of Frankenstorm: Part 5 (Gabby saves the day!)

So, how would I get from NYC to Philly?  No planes were flying out of La Guardia, the subways were flooded and no buses were traveling, but Amtrak was selling tickets.  I purchased a ticket that left at 7am which would leave me plenty of time to get there for the 11:20am flight to Dallas.  I breathed a sigh of relief.

We got a call from Ken and Angie saying that they could barely find a taxi to drive them back to Battery Park City since the roads were flooded, so we should just stay where we were in Midtown for dinner.

Peter and I decided to go out to dinner- to Korean BBQ of course!  We left around 7:30pm, hoping the lines might be shorter, and they were a little.  We enjoyed an awesome meal and he introduced me to soju (Korean vodka).  I had never had it before, and Peter said if I wanted to remain his sibling, I must enjoy some with him.  I was getting to know all sorts of things about Peter that I hadn't before this trip!

When we got home, I got a phone call; Amtrak was canceling all trains due to flooding in the tunnels.  I freaked out again; I was desperate to get home.  I called every airline to see who was getting to Philly; at one point I was going to rent a car to drive 2 hours to Scranton (yes, the Office hub) to fly out to Philly.  When I told Peter my plan, he looked at me like I was crazy and said, "Tam, stop and think!  The roads are flooded, it's dangerous, you could get stuck somewhere out there all by yourself.  Just stay here another day and be safe."  I shook my head adamantly and said, "I can't!!  It's unacceptable!!  I WILL find a way to Philly!!"

After about 2 hours of researching and calling around for options, I finally admitted defeat.  It was about 12:30am, and I called my neighbor Stephanie (who is a night owl too) and told her that I wasn't going to make it to the Halloween block party after all.  We went over some details of what time things were being set up at the house, where my girls costumes were in their rooms so she could help change them, other odds and ends.  Since all the flyers had said the party was held at my address (and there was no way to inform the whole subdivision that it was changing locations on the day of), we decided to keep everything stationed there, but she would come over and help set up, letting everyone know I was stuck in NY.  I remember saying, "I can't believe I won't be there after all this planning.  I can't believe I have to tell my kids I'm not coming home again.  I just need to get to Philly; there MUST be a way!" when I got a text from my college friend Gabby who lives in Philly.  I shrieked a little and told Stephanie I'd call her back once I talked with Gabby.  My heart was racing; I knew this wasn't coincidence.

And it wasn't!  Gabby was working at the hospital, and her charge nurse had almost sent her home at 7pm.  Gabby's power was out at home, so had she gone home then, she would have missed my Facebook post pleading for help to get to Philly!  Instead, she was there at the hospital and finished around 1am, checked her email and Facebook to find out how things were going with the storm.  She saw my post and immediately texted me, asking if I was still awake.  I texted back "YES!" and then called her.  She said, "I'll come get you and bring you to the airport right now."  My mouth dropped open; I couldn't believe it!  I hesitated and asked, "Gabby, that's a 2-hour drive, and it's in the middle of the night.  Are you sure?"  She said, "I'm already driving and on my way!  Where can we meet?  Just find a place that's not in Manhattan so we don't get stuck there."  

I had tears of joy and gratitude; I couldn't believe God had arranged a personal ride from a good friend that I hadn't seen in 15 years to be my way out to Philly.  He had shut all the other doors of transportation so I could ride in a car and catch up with Gabby Brinton!!  I laughed when I visualized myself like a child throwing a tantrum screaming, "I need it NOW!" and God holding me tightly saying, "Just wait a little longer and trust me- I've got it all figured out for you."

Peter was in shock too and said, "Now that is a good friend."  Poor guy was so exhausted but waited up for me as I took a shower, got my stuff ready to go, and was trying to figure out where we could meet up that would be a safe place.  I certainly didn't want to be standing around somewhere in NYC in the dark!  We were looking for 24-hour CVS Pharmacy locations across the Lincoln Tunnel (the only dry tunnel) into New Jersey, but none of them were answering the phones.  Finally I chose a parking lot of a supermarket in Weehawken, NJ as our meeting place and called Gabby with the location.

I gave Peter a big hug and said thanks for everything during this whole time, and he went to bed; it was about 3am.  I got a cab on my own outside the building and prayed for the best.  We drove through the tunnel and on the other side into New Jersey, it was pitch black.  There were no lights on anywhere, and the only way we could see was through the help of a few police car sirens lighting the way.  We wouldn't be able to find this supermarket, so I called Gabby and she said there was a McDonalds that was open by the JFK turnpike in Weehawken.  We got there safely and I had the cab driver take our picture; it was a HUGE blessing to see her!

What we didn't know until later was that most of lower Manhattan, Hoboken, and Staten Island had flooded and there were no cabs driving out of NY to NJ.  There were even some reports of flooding in Weehawken the next day, but somehow, by God's grace, He made a way for me to get a cab and drive out on dry land to NJ in the dark.

Gabby and I picked up some coffee at McDonald's and then started on the road.  We laughed that we were both pulling an all-nighter like we used to in college!  We chatted about what we did after college, talked a bit about our mutual friend Gloria who had passed away in August, and told each other what life was like now being married with kids; we picked up naturally like we had just seen each other yesterday.  Friendships like that are so rare!  2 hours went flying by, and we arrived at the Philadelphia Airport at about 5am.  I gave her a huge hug and told her I would never, ever forget what she did for me.  She said it was exciting for her to be part of the adventure, and that she knew how much I wanted to get home so she was glad to help.  I still couldn't believe that she was willing to drive for 4 hours in the middle of the night, after work, and not even hesitate about it for a second.  If you know her, you know how special she is.  And if you don't, I hope that you will have the honor of meeting her someday.  I am blessed to have a friend like Gabby!


gabby said...

Tammy, I just googled myself (to see what's out there), and your mentioning of me in this post came up. So I reread it. That really was a great night! I'm glad it was recorded so we can always look back & remember how God kept us safe & gave us that opportunity to hang out!

Tammisuh said...

Gabby, it is the weirdest coincidence that you wrote me about this trip today! I just got a message out of the blue this afternoon from Mike (the guy who helped me get from NY to Philly) on the first leg of the trip! He was on his way back to Philly today and remembered the craziness of that day. You were both my angels on that trip; I wouldn't have seen my family if it weren't for both of you!!

gabby said...

Ha! Read this again tonight after googling myself again! :) (Am I a narcissist or just want to know what's out there?) I never saw your reply until just now. That is so cool! Did you hear from Mike today, too? I cannot wait to see you ladies in August. I hope the DC rendezvous is still on!!! (And congrats on Romo's win last night. I am not pleased.)