Ryan posted this link. Apparently one of the people stuck in the Newark airport during the security-breach scare last week was a guitarist, and he rallied the strangers around him to sing “Hey Jude”. It’s a short video, but it’s hard to deny its feel-good potency. Partly that’s the power of the Beatles, but I think it’s also just people singing together, one person bringing out an instrument and trying to make the situation better.

I used to work at…what did I call it here? Oh yes, Queequeg’s Qoffee Qasa. One night I was filling in away from my home Queequeg’s, at one of the busiest QQs in the district. This store wasn’t as matey as my usual store, due to size, location, and existence of a drive-through. A few hours into my shift, we got a call from my home store. Did we have power? Why yes, we did. Because they didn’t. Okay, they’ll send customers there. Call waiting — the next furthest store. Did we have power?

The power continued to fail across town, as if it were herding all the customers toward us and the biggest Queequeg’s, the 24-hour behemoth to the West. Customers came in swells. The drive-through Qrewmember reported power had gone out across the street, in all the apartment complexes up the block. Our logo was shining out like a lighthouse of warmth and comfort, and they were coming. Then the phone rang again. The 24-hour store had lost power.

I don’t remember those hours in great detail. I was on the register, trying to serve the mob as quickly and kindly as possible. I know we had a line that filled the entire store, that we ran out of white chocolate sauce, that all the power outlets were taken and people were setting up camp in our lobby until their own power came back on. What I remember most clearly is the spirit that emerged. Usually, if there were five people in front of a customer in line, that customer would get anxious, check his watch, fret and bark a little when he finally got to the front. Now, with fifty people in line, everyone was friendly and understanding. They took normal chocolate instead of white chocolate. They bought the next person in line’s drink. They left epic tips. And when I tell this story with more brevity — say, in three sentences or less — this is the detail I always mention: someone brought a guitar and played quietly in the corner for hours. We turned off the stereo and worked as hard as we could. We made fussy employee drinks for the 24-hour store’s six chilly Qrewmembers, who had to sit on the sidewalk outside their store, waiting for light. We worked past closing time.

No one sang, that I remember, but that dude in the corner with his guitar made it official: that wasn’t just a Queequeg’s, that night. That was a community. Music does that, Beatles or no.


I had never heard this Queequeg’s/power outage story and I love it! (Aside: the first time i heard “hey jude” ben Christiansen sang it to me on the petticoats of cordiner hall whilst i was incapacitated by jagermeister. needless to say, i have avoided jagermeister ever since, but still enjoy hey jude.)

Also, I love acoustic guitar.

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