Do NOT call me. I am the worst person to call on in an emergency. Seriously. If you have access to a television, newspaper and/or the internet, you know an earthquake has hit the east coast. The media is calling it the East Coast Quake and reports have it being felt from Canada to Atlanta…and I got caught up in it. You know, I would like to think I am an intelligent girl, with logic and reasoning if not above average, at least on par with the Average Joe. I am here to tell you I have more in common with a box of rocks than I realize.
I was at work when the quake hit….I work on the 8th floor of a building downtown and when the first tremor hit, I actually thought it was the vibrations of one of my co-workers who was walking beside my cubicle at the time. I honestly did and thought to myself that he was walking especially heavy today. Then things began to vibrate….the wall/window of my cube was shaking, the desk was shaking and my chair was moving side to side and all I could do was hold onto the arms of the chair while screaming WTF is happening?? WHAT is going on? I have never been through an earthquake or a natural disaster of any type….I was in jail when Hurricane Fran blew through North Carolina and all that happened was the power went out but we never knew as the jail had an emergency generator. There was the time Hurricane Isabelle came to town, but all she did was take a couple of patio chairs and dump a bunch of rain. This…the movement of a building made of stone, steel and concrete was scarier than hell.
Only two people in the office had been through an earthquake before, but only one had presence of mind. He stood calmly in the center of the office, ready to take over as Safety Officer if need be. The other person who had experienced an earthquake before was actually in the lunchroom, seated next to a window (even I know that is not the best place to be) praying that if she died, she would be in one piece and her face would remain untouched so she could be easily identified. The rest of us were looking a little shaken and one guy declared the floor still felt weird, even after the tremor passed. I stated we needed to evacuate, but Safety Officer said the safest place was indoors versus outdoors and to remain calm. So I called my mother…and when my father answered the phone I said without preamble that I had just been in an earthquake. Just like that…as if it were a ride at the amusement park and no one else had the privilege of being scared shitless.
Calls were made to Headquarters, but their building had been evacuated and they were in the middle of the street, unable to return to the building or to go home because no one had dismissed us. Adrenaline had my stomach feeling sour and bit by bit, we were finding out that the quake registered 5.8 on the Richter scale and was felt all along the east coast. Then we received word we were dismissed for the day, and naïve, dumber than a box of rocks me, left the office thinking that I would have the easiest commute home. To cut me some slack, when I left the building…nothing was changed. Nothing apocalyptic has occurred…no gaping holes in the streets or sidewalks; no buildings in rubble and no smoke burning from random fires. People were not limping down the streets in torn clothing with looks of despair and panic on their faces. Au contraire…people were having frozen yogurts, eating sandwiches, ordering wine, taking pictures in front of fountains and just enjoying a beautiful summer day. The one thing I did notice were how many people were above ground…the subway stations were strangely empty. Well, that is because the trains were suspended while tracks and stations were inspected for damage…and it never occurred to me that the subways would be affected. I am not even going to try and justify my complete ignorance at not realizing that earthquakes occur underground, where the trains actually run. Which meant the buses were standing room only leaving their points of origin, traffic was at a standstill and I remember looking out the bus window at the long lines of people waiting for their commuter buses which would take them to suburbs that were beyond the reach of the metro system. The bus ride was pretty uneventful except for the two women on canes who somehow got into an argument over God and using the Lord’s name in vain and at some point, it came down to both of them claiming to have a cane (they were both on canes for whatever reason) and not being afraid to use them if it came to that.
The bus ride home took 2 hours and by this time, in my mind I have my apartment looking like a war zone…but I was pleasantly surprised. A shoebox, a vase and a DVD all fallen to the floor was the extent of my damage. I checked in with some Panel members…Chef was fine; Artsy Craftsy went a little nuts but is much better now; Quiet One knew exactly what was happening and remained calm throughout; Guardian Princess is fine and thankful for the half day off; my Sister is fine and after doing her familial duty to call and make sure I survived, told me we were doing a birthday dinner celebration later in the week and Girlfriend, who has been through a 7.5 earthquake, was a little shaken but otherwise okay. Cuz said that he ran outside and stood across the street from his building on a vacant lot because there was nothing to fall on his head over there. No one I know of or love and care about were injured ( my parents felt it 300 miles away…at least my mom did. My father is still asking if there really was an earthquake) and no one is displaced. A Higher Power kept us covered and I am more than grateful for that….I feel deep gratitude.
Obviously, I need to read up on being prepared for a natural disaster as they can strike anywhere, anytime and being ignorant of such practical procedures is not a good thing. I will be back soon to tell you guys about my crappy birthday and I need to find out what to do in event of a hurricane as Irene is coming….she is expected Sunday and I want to be sure I am on top of things for her visit before I am telling you guys all about how she came to town and blew me away with her.
I hope any and everyone reading this managed to make it through the quake with no injuries and/or disruptions and that you, your friends and family are covered and protected.