I’m sitting in Louis Armstrong Stadium at the US Open. It seats 14,000 people but the ranks have been considerably thinned out tonight. New York City is experiencing one heck of a rainstorm, and Louis Armstrong is … dripping.
There’s a squad of employees armed with 3-foot-long blowers, trying to demystify the court. Seemingly a hopeless task.
The architect had a good idea to cope with the city’s sweltering summers. Have two facing walls be louvered – like blinds. So metal pieces are angled – low to the outside and high to the inside. The cross breeze will cool off the spectators, and of course no rain can get in.
Except during this evening’s monsoon.
News flash! The bowl of the stadium has been evacuated. I put my umbrella up fast when the rains really busted through the levers, and within seconds it was inside out and angled to the wind.
Now I’m in an entrance to a washroom, huddled with about ten other folks … and not being rained on. Convenient if ever I need to pee!
Now we’ve been ushered down to a lower level. “It’s not safe up here!” says a staff member. I consider that an exaggeration but who knows?
I figure that there’s no way that play will resume tonight so maybe I’ll mosey over to the subway. Of course I haven’t looked outside recently.
Downpour! Hundreds of us splashing through puddles and holding fast to our umbrellas. Perhaps a thousand of us swishing our MetroCards and squeezing onto the subway platform bound for Manhattan. No exaggeration.
Next in line for the day’s events is an announcement: There’s so much water on the tracks that we have to move to another (safer) platform. So we slowly proceed there. No shoving, and even a laugh here or there.
When I climb the stairs, I’m greeted by a subway train as full as you can imagine. I have no idea how they’ll get the doors closed. And – get this – the sardines on those cars stayed that way for a good twenty minutes, packed in, train staying put.
Finally the doors closed, squeezing folks in even more tightly, and they were off to the west. Soon another train appeared and it was my turn. We were pleasantly full but not within kissing distance.
I asked my neighbour how I would navigate the flow of humanity between me and the door when it was my stop. She smiled and told me no problem – “New Yorkers move over.” She was right.
There’s a pub called PJ Horgan’s a few doors down from my Airbnb and I’d wanted to visit. I walked in, talked to the bartender for a minute or two and then realized … “You’re soaked through. You’re cold. Go home.”
I followed instructions.