It was nearly 100 degrees on much of the east coast of the United States this past week and Thursday evening the New York City area was hit hard by thunderstorms. The Black Eyed Peas concert was delayed and then cancelled in Central Park. The Yankees were delayed (later succumbing to their hated rival Boston Red Sox).
However it was a train station power outage that reminded me of how so many businesses fail to account for things that can go wrong – and often do. I arrived at the Metro-North Railroad South Norwalk station about 6:25PM amidst the remnants of what appeared to be a powerful thunderstorm. It was still raining hard and the sky was nearly black. Once I entered the station it was apparent that there was no power. It could not have been the first time that had ever happened.
As commuters like me trudged under the tracks in the underground passageway it was dark – nearly pitch black with only the light from people’s mobile phones to act as small beacons (pretty ineffective I might add). Since there was no power there were no elevators (of course I was parked on the 5th floor of the garage). I immediately thought about the handicapped – how a handicapped person would not even be able to get into the station much less get upstairs without an elevator.
Once I reached my car I headed toward the spiral down ramp in my attempt to exit. Except that I quickly realized the exit gate was not going to work since there was no power. I realized that when I was stopped on the ramp behind in between a sea of cars. We sat there for about 15 minutes – nowhere to go. Finally the cars started moving but in order to get out we had to go the wrong way (out the in) and I was hoping that there were no cars attempting to enter the parking facility.
During the entire episode I kept thinking how could the parking authority (a seemingly contradictory term!) not have a contingency plan for power outages? Didn’t they have a backup generator? What would have happened if it were totally dark outside? To say the situation was unsafe was an understatement.
In business it’s impossible to think of everything. But when it comes to keeping your customers safe, and considering the ramifications of things like a power outage (it’s not like they NEVER happen), it’s unconscionable to allow for an outcome like that which I experienced.
It shouldn’t be that difficult should it?