It's fun to stay at the YMCA. Except last night.
Last night, a record cold one here in the Big Frozen Apple, the lights went out in Brooklyn--some of the lights, anyway. Some rooms on the third and fourth floors of the Greenpoint YMCA suddenly went dark around eight pm. Because of this the third and fourth floor bathrooms were closed and locked and everyone had to use the bathrooms located on the second floor. The YMCA has shared bathrooms, located on each floor. And in fact, according a recent internet article, this trend is spreading to other hotels in the NYC area. Booking a room at the Y includes full use of the gym and swimming pool.
It's a no frills establishment--cheaper by far than the Plaza, or the Waldorf, or even the Ramada Inn, but still not cheap for a working stiff if you factor in the cost of eating out. A handful of the residents are "permanent"--if such a thing exists in rental housing: some are people on disability who can't afford to live elsewhere. At least two current residents had been forced out of their apartments when their buildings burned down, and the Red Cross and the city put them up here in the Y.
New York's Bravest--New York City firefighters---visited the premises twice last night, and found a problem with some electrical wiring. Con Edison had to be called in to fix it. Flashlights were provided to any one who requested one. The next morning, I received a requested wake up knock by a Y staffer, since my alarm clock had been knocked out of service.
After a rough night, residents and guests awoke to a chilly hotel with no hot water. Because of this, Y management told everyone they would attempt to relocate us to another Y. I rushed to do my laundry at the laundry mat in the next block, because I didn't want to pack a bunch of dirty clothes in my suitcase. Especially since I've been plagued with some kind of itchy bumps since I moved into this room and I don't know the source or how it's spread. A friendly Rite Aid pharmacist suggested I try Benadryl cream but added it would not be effective if the bumps were caused by insects. I only know I can't afford to go to a doctor for a non-emergency and I want this to go away.
Before noon the heat, hot water and lights were fully restored. (If only all NYC landlords could be this prompt with repairs.)
After relating my concerns to the Y staff about the itchy bumps, my room was changed, and housekeeping was dispatched to inspect the mattress. The next morning, I'm happy to report, the itching is gone.
In a building this old and distinguished, power outages happen. It happened in a designated historic apartment house I lived in in Florida, and more than once. Long time Y residents told me this is the first time anything like this has happened. So I guess it's still fun to stay at the Y---but I want an apartment-- I need an apartment so I can do my own cooking again. Restaurant food is good sometimes, but it gets pricey.
From my new room, if I look straight ahead and down I can see a brick wall and a rooftop. If I raise my gaze just slightly, I can look out over the rooftop of the next building and see the Brooklyn skyline. I see smoke billowing from an industrial smokestack, I see a restored brownstone with bay windows a couple blocks away, and the light from a television or computer screen flickering inside the corner apartment. I can see trees and sky. I can see possibilities.