Recent news about Hurricane Henri hitting New York City brought back a flood of memories. And not particularly pleasant ones.
The incidences of hurricanes hitting New York are rare. For those of us in the upper Midwest, they are not even on our radar except as an item on the national news.
In 1985, my wife and I were in the early years of building a new advertising agency in South Bend. One of our early clients was the food service division of Ralston Purina. The good folks at Ralston had kindly given our name to a meat production company based in the Bronx that was interested in developing a retail beef business marketed directly to consumers comparable to Omaha Steaks.
During an initial phone conversation with this prospective new client, it was mutually decided that I would fly to New York, at their expense, to tour their facilities and discuss our potential relationship in more detail. A few days later, I boarded a plane for NYC. During the flight, there was a lot of conversation about an anticipated hurricane hitting New York the next day.
Her name was Gloria. I honestly didn’t think much about it at the time.
That evening I had a good meeting with the potential client and scheduled a tour of their production plant the next morning. Then it was off to LaGuardia to catch my flight home. When I arrived at the airport, the ticket agent said my flight was likely the last to leave before Hurricane Gloria came calling. So, I went to the gate and waited – only to find out the storm was arriving more quickly than anticipated and that the flight was cancelled. What’s more, aviation officials had ordered the plane to take off with no passengers, but all our baggage aboard.
So, all of us had to scramble to find lodging somewhere to ride out the storm overnight. At that time, the area around LaGuardia had few hotels and the accommodations were less than desirable. I finally secured one of the last rooms at a rundown motel nearby. Bear in mind that (A) all my clothes were in my departed luggage and (B) this was long before the Internet.
Thus, I was stuck in a crummy hotel room with nothing to read or do except watch a tiny screen TV on which the only programming consisted of every weather forecaster in town offering non-stop coverage of the impending Armageddon. Suffice it to say, I was never so bored in my entire life.
Gloria came calling in the late afternoon. But she failed to live up to her advanced billings. By midwestern standards, it seemed like nothing more than an average summer rainstorm.
The next day, I flew home. Exhausted, bored and tired of spending two days in the same clothes, but happy to be back home. When I returned to work, I immediately prepared a proposal for how we would market the steaks and beef products of this exciting new venture. I sent the proposal and waited expectantly for an enthusiastic response and a commission to begin work. Then I waited some more. Week after week. No response. Nothing. Not even the agreed upon compensation for my travel expenses.
Glory be. Who would have thought Gloria could be so cruel?