Category - New York Stories

I’m Back In The USSR Today…

I’m back in the USSR today… 8 AM, knock on the door. The super is outside along with a marshal and the ConEd man.

“Kathleen Travis?” the ConEd man asks.

“Hm, no. Who is that? Nobody here by that name.” My dear wife is clear as day.

“You haven’t paid your electricity bill in 6 months and we’re cutting your service right now.”

Despite our protestations of a ridiculous mistake, they shut off our power right then and there.

I spend the morning on the phone, dialing through a Spanish-only menu to get to a ConEd rep. I explain that they made a huge mistake and kept the old tenant on the electricity bill, instead of us, as they promised at the switch during the move. The rep acknowledges the mistake and says a supervisor will call back after an hour to send someone back out to turn it on.

By 5 PM, the ConEd guys are here. The super just had to let them down into the basement to set the meter. 40 minutes and tens of calls and texts later, no response from the super or the landlord. The ConEd guys leave.

The house is totally dark. Kid is freaking out. We ask our amazing neighbors Amir and Melissa to plug in an extension cord. I quickly run to Crown Heights and back for burgers that my wife orders in French. The owner asks me in French, “Fran├žais ou Americain?”


“Ah, oui? How did that happen?”

“You don’t always choose.”

I sign and leave with the goods, looking into Rite Aid for dry ice and a cooler.

There’s none anywhere for our no-longer-frozen meat and fish, alas.

We eat and experience glorious, fiery heartburn. Then, we proceed to defiantly, shamelessly, flippantly watch 2 episodes of “The Americans” on an iPhone screen (the laptop is dead and anyway, Internet is down with the power).

And then Paige finds out her parents are spies.

Our house is totally dark and the old days of power shortages in the Mother country bring back (freezing-balls) warm memories of Russian winter.

Mother of necessity… (Mother Flipper, Fuggetaboutit).

P.S. Thanks, ConEd, for your bottomless ineptitude – and 6 months of subsidized electricity. Pleasure doing business. DMV-level pleasure.