Caveat: I need to make it clear that this article is targeted to those of us who were minor-league inconvenienced when Hurricane Sandy knocked out our power, not for the thousands of people who saw their homes destroyed.
The power went out pretty early. Hurricane Sandy was just a lot of wind when the lights started to flicker. A few minutes later, they went out for good about 8:45 p.m. It was no big deal. I had flashlights, lots of batteries, candles and lots of liquor. (I had invited a few friends over to "weather" the storm together).
Having no power seemed like no big deal given that it was night and I'd be going to bed soon. Then I remembered I had to walk the dog and, because the elevators were out, I had to carry him up and down 12 flights of stairs. I cheerily told myself "it'll be good for my thighs."
I assumed this no-power thing would be temporary. Con Ed had assured us they were "ready for the storm" and I believed them. I figured I could manage with no power with a little ingenuity and a positive attitude. When the water went out the next day, I realized I needed a little help.
I asked my friend Angie if I could spend the night. I really meant one night. But the prognosis for restoring power and water became uncertain, and I realized I needed a different plan. Angie was kind enough to let me and the dog stay "as long as we needed to." What a dear. By day three, it occurred to me that there's an art to crashing at somebody's place. So for those of you who have been inconvenienced by Hurricane Sandy -- that mean ole broad -- I'm going to share what I've learned about being a good guest so that I (and you) will be invited back, perhaps under better circumstances:
Cook breakfast: Who doesn't love to have breakfast prepared for them? Your host will actually look forward to you still being there tomorrow morning.
Clean your room... or close the door: Sometimes I can be a little messy. When I noticed, mid-afternoon, that Angie had gone in and made my bed, I had to remind myself that I have to have better domestic skills at someone else's home than I do at my own. Or I could just close the door. Which is what I did because, even though I remembered to make my bed the next day, I didn't get around to it the following day. Change is hard.
Get out of the way. Don't be underfoot all day. Even though your host likes you, she's not used to you being there all the time. Go out for a few hours. Everybody likes a break.
Make sure your dog is cute. Angie doesn't have a dog so I was pushing my luck a bit when I showed up with mine. But he's darn cute and soon the two of them were cozily sharing a chair. If your dog isn't cute though, maybe you should leave him elsewhere. You must have at least one friend with a dog.
Bring gifts (food). This one was easy. I just brought all the food that was in my refrigerator and freezer that would have gone bad. I'm crashing at her place; she shouldn't have to feed me, too, right? If you don't have food to bring, go out and buy some. Or treat her to dinner.
Be agreeable. Watch what your host watches on tv and don't complain.
If you're sharing a bathroom, take your shower at nightor after everyone else. No one likes having their morning routine disrupted.
If you have kids, stay with people who have kids. I'm single. So is Angie. Being in a similar life stage just fits.
If you're sleeping on the couch, you don't get to sleep in.
Lastly, volunteer or make a donation to a relief organization that will help all the people who suffered so much more than we did. This won't make you a good guest, but it's a good thing to do anyway.