Friday, August 31, 2007

Katrina stories, 3

Anybody with half a brain cell knows to stock up on non-perishable food items when stocking up for events like nuclear strikes, alien attacks, and of course, destructive hurricanes. (Also a good idea to top off your vehicle's gas tank, but that's another story for later.)

So Nathalie and I, along with a couple of the other residents that were staying in town to ride out the storm, went to the nearby grocery store to do just that the morning that the storm was coming.

Why did we wait until the last minute to stock up? Well, we weren't sure who was going to stay behind and "man the fort." When we found out that the storm was making a beeline for New Orleans, we (eventually) had about 70% of the residents working in the hospital to evacuate. Then the plan was to evacuate the patients to other hospitals further inland, and then the rest of us would leave too. Who got to go and who stayed was picked by random. And of course, this decision wasn't made by the hospital administrators until the last minute.

Although I was allowed to evacuate, I looked at the guys that were going to be left to take care of the hospital, took pity, and decided to stay behind and help them out. Nathalie then decided to stay with her fiancee. And despite everything I could do to get her to go to her parents, she refused to leave me behind. So there we were.

Anyway, although the concept of stocking up on items was simple, the actual practice proved more difficult. For you see, the rest of the town had either: a) already bought everything off of the shelves, or b) had left town earlier, thus leaving nobody behind to work in the grocery stores.

We drove around town madly, trying to find a grocery store that was still open. But the one we did find, didn't have much left.

Then the question is, what are you going to put in your cart?
  • Bread, peanut butter, and jelly. Yes.
  • Bottled water. Yes, lots of water.
  • Beer? Hmm... No, we better not.
  • Spam? Yuk. No.
  • Canned meat? Yuk. No.
  • Tuna? Ugh, eat this smelly thing? No.
  • Canned vegies? Ehhh.... No.
  • Beef jerkey? Well if Lewis and Clark lived on this to explore the great west, I can live off of it as well. Whoa, $6 a bag? Sheesh!

As you spend an hour just going back and forth through the aisles trying to stock up, you soon realize that there really isn't a lot of things that you know you're going to eat without being able to cook it, or at least warm it up.

Seriously, try to make a list of things you're going to eat that doesn't require heating or refrigeration.

We came up with PB&J and beef jerkey. And a small collection of Chef Boyardee, canned chili, and canned soup in our cart. (Which all were disgusting when served lukewarm in 90 degree ambient temperatures).

Nathalie and I thought we could go for days eating just PB&J. How could we not? They're delicious! They're reminiscent of childhood! We even bought several different jellies to mix it up a bit.

However, I was proven wrong by the 6th meal of PB&J. I don't know how dogs can eat the same dog food day after day. Because as hungry as I was, that PB&J sitting on my foam plate looked as good as a sandwich made out of a 2x4.

It was the second day after the storm, and it was 95 degrees in that hospital room. The AC was out and we had fans circulating that humid, hot air, but it did little to relieve the misery. Nathalie and I, along with the rest of the guys, sat in our hospital room, drinking our lukewarm water, sweating rivers, and eating our pathetic meals.

I looked at Nathalie, who was looking at her sandwich with disdain. Matt was miserably eating his second can of Vienna Sausage. Darren was chewing on his graham crackers with a blank stare. And Josh was choking down a lukewarm can of Spaghetti-os.

As Nathalie and I ate our warm PB&J, we made plans for the most awesomest steak dinner that we were ever going to have once we got out of this predicament.