My First Earthquake. . . .or Rolling Aftershocks Before I moved to Los Angeles, many people back east would respond to my intended move with "Oh, I could never go out there---earthquakes". For some reason, the thought of the earth shifting beneath my feet did not stress me out as much as the thought of freezing temperatures and deadly blizzards, so go west, young lady!
After a year in Los Angeles, I still hadn't felt the earth shift under my feet. I had gotten more ground rumbling in New York from the Subways under the sidewalks. I was beginning to doubt the Earthquake. Perhaps it was just a fabrication, a ruse, invented by Californians to discourage people moving there from the East Coast. Californians even built up a film industry to churn out disaster films like Earthquake! or Volcano! to show people what would happen if they moved to California. My family continued the earthquake facade by showing me where the canned food, extra water, and matches were, so that I would be prepared for the "big one". Sometimes, people asked me if I had felt tremors during the night. No, I was sleeping. Or was I? Hmmmmmm.
Naturally, after a year in LA, the earthquake karma caught up with me, and I experienced my first earthquake. . .or more specifically, the rolling aftershocks.
In December, a 6.5 earthquake hit the central coast of California about 200 miles north of me. It happened after 11 am on a Monday morning.
Every Monday morning at 11am (apparently since the dawn of time), my office has its weekly staff meeting. It's usually quite boring, and for a while, I used the time (sometimes more than an hour) to drink coffee, sleep with my eyes open, or count shoes (how many people are wearing black shoes, brown shoes, etc). As I have gotten to know my co-workers more, I started to be entertained by some of their power plays and realized the Monday staff meeting was actually a fantastic dysfunctional farce acted out by non-confrontational people who see everything as potential disaster and feel unappreciated for the work they do preventing the next apocalypse. So, I make jokes.
So on that Monday in December. Staff meeting. I'm drinking my third or forth cup of coffee which is getting cold. Suddenly, the room shifts and shifts back again. I look around. The meeting continues. Caffeine rush perhaps. I should drink less coffee. The room shifts again---real fast---like reality is going too fast for my eyes. Okay, I'm gonna cut back. But this time, others notice the shift too.
"What was that?"
The time space continuum shifts again. That gets everyone's attention. The room starts to sway back and forth. We're in a room without windows on the seventh (and top floor) of an office building. Okay, seventh floor, ten or twenty steps to the stairway. I can climb over my co-workers and be out of the building in less than a minute. I stand up.
"Should we evacuate?"
"Nah, it should be over in a minute." My co-workers say casually.
Hello! We're swaying from side to side. The floor could fall away any second. I am not going to die with you people---you have no sense of humor. I'm just collecting a paycheck at this job. I'm not going to rescue any of you. I'm going to grab and hold onto whatever is left of our office until I am rescued by a cute fireman (and he has to be cute, damn it!). I'm a survivor. This will not be the end.
At this point in my internal monologue, the shaking stops. It probably lasted 45 seconds, but it felt like two minutes to me. I sit down.
I had made it through my first California earthquake. Okay, earthquakes are real.