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Wall Street Gets Back to Business, But For How Long?

Stocks in this article: SLG BPO

The story was the same at the Milk Truck, another mobile food vendor on Wall Street that sold out of grilled cheese sandwiches -- an unusual circumstance, despite the fact that they'd brought more than usual.

The Milk Truck, Nader's hot dog stand and the NYC Love Street Coffee Truck created a mini-oasis among Financial District residents.

People in the area lacked not only food, of course, but electricity as well, which was why they were happy to find Daymion Mardel and Angel Hernandez offering them a chance to charge their mobile phones for free from the back of their car. Con Edison says electricity will be restored by Saturday.

Freelance commercial photographers who share a residence in Harlem, Mardel and Hernandez have mobile charging equipment they use regularly in their work.

"We decided that rather than have it sitting at home we could put it to good use for people that really need it," Hernandez said.

It may seem that none of these things -- the lack of food and electricity, Con Ed trucks dotting the landscape, the good samaritan cell phone chargers -- are ordinary.

Still, for a New Yorker who experienced Sept. 11, 2001, the occasional blackout or snow storm -- even Occupy Wall Street protests -- the Financial District's first day of trading after Hurricane Sandy wasn't a big deal. More surreal were the days following the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing of Lehman Brothers. The world felt to most of us who work in the financial-services industry as if it might collapse, even though everyone and everything on the street looked completely normal.

Maybe another thing that made Sandy seem like such a non-event in the Financial District was that the water disappeared so quickly. Despite pictures of floating police vans I'd seen online Tuesday night, I had to look hard to find a puddle. An extra pair of shoes and socks I brought along weren't necessary.

Still, for Sandy's seeming insignificance alongside the terrorist attacks, the blackouts, the snow storms and the financial crisis that I've witnessed in my 15 years as a New Yorker, Sandy is in some ways more unsettling.

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