Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My First Earthquake

Two days ago, in preparation to our upcoming trip to California, I asked Dan, “What do I do in case of an earthquake?”

His answer: “Nothing. By the time you realize you’re in an earthquake, it’s over.”

Fast-forward to today, I am at the office where I am working as a maternity fill-in for the summer. Kristin, the girl who I am covering, had made a special trip to the office to show off her adorable baby boy. My entire department is in my boss’ office at around 2 pm on the 20th floor, cooing the baby, updating Kristin on what’s happened since she’s left, when suddenly someone said, “Is the building moving?”

We pause, and sure enough it was. The floor was swaying beneath our feet. I could see the ceiling lights swinging back and forth. Then it stopped.

First thought: Is this an earthquake? Second thought (Because I live in NYC and hey, you never know), is this some kind of aftershock to some terrorist attack? Our building lies right on top of a major subway station. If it was bombed, our building would definitely rattle. While a terrorist attack seemed more likely (unfortunately), I was thinking it was probably an earthquake.

I work in an office with all girls, and so everyone quickly grabbed their purses, slipped out of their heels into flip flops, and without formal instruction, by instinct, we all proceeded to the stairwell and walked down the 20 flights of stairs. Poor Kristin was carrying her baby. Two girls held her stroller all the way down. The whole scene reminded me of the blackout of 2003, which is probably the last time I walked down a billion flights of stairs.

Once we made it out to the street, there were mobs of people milling about. I checked on Facebook and saw people from Washington, DC to Boston posting about the earthquake. Everyone was on their phones trying to figure out what was going on and contacting their loved ones. I emailed Dan to make sure he was okay and of course he was.

We decided to walk to Bryant Park nearby because it is wide-open space. I was excited by the adventure, but the girls from work were shaken up and nervous. I thought we would all have lunch (I hadn't eaten!) and then head back, but some girls didn’t want to go back. At that point our office building had imposed a “mandatory evacuation” so my boss let us go home(!) Everyone ran off in a flash, but I stayed put in the park. It was a gorgeous summer day, so I ate lunch, enjoyed my free afternoon and felt the buzz of excitement all around me.

I imagine this is what it must be like when it snows one inch in the South and everything shuts down and everyone freaks out for no good reason. It’s kind of fun. The entire city is caught off-guard and you’re all sharing the moment together.

My mom sent me an email: “Hi Yvonne, I felt that earthquake too. Now you are ready for California.”

I guess I am!


Willy The Prince said...

HA! Love it. I thought the same thing. Pretty funny with the stroller logistics what a nightmare.

Peter said...

I was at the shop and I noticed the building shaking. I went outside thinking our neighbor backed his truck into our building or something. As we were discusing the shake, Dad comes running out from behind the building screaming. Turns out he was splitting wood and there were hornets in the log, and he was being chased by them. He had no idea there was an earthquake. I wish I had it on video. It's a memory I'll never forget.