Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Earthquake in Brooklyn

The Big Island gets little tremors all the time. We're volcanic. It happens. It's not supposed to happen in New York City. If I'd known I would have to deal with earthquakes and tornadoes in addition to fucking WINTER, I might have just stayed in Hawaii with my earthquakes and tsunamis. At least there we have perpetual summer.

Virginia just had a 5.9 earthquake that we felt up here in Brooklyn, first as a maybe-it's-just-me tremor and then as a holy-building-evacuation-Batman shake that left us milling about in the parking lot for about half an hour in some pretty gorgeous late summer weather. So it wasn't all bad. I was standing by the office printer with a piece of paperwork and thought at first that I was having a sensory flashback to the great Hawaii earthquake of 2006. But then the hangers on the coat rack started to clink together and the floor began to sway like a boat (we're on the top floor, six stories up, so sway is actually a good thing. Sway saves. Brittle breaks.). My coworker told whoever was on the phone with him, "It's an earthquake, get out of the building," hung up, and looked at me and snapped, "Get moving!" Combat veterans: they always know what to do.

It's a good thing we just had a fire drill a couple of weeks ago. Everyone scurried briskly down the stairs, making loud human-noises similar to wildebeasts evading lions on the savannah. "Don't panic, don't trip, don't puke," I told myself. Self, all excellent suggestions. I was one flight of stairs away from the outside world when this guy in front of me suddenly stops, turns around, and says, "I'm going back to help get Admissions out of their office!" I shoved right past him, because Hero, I'm too young and pretty to die! Let others perish, I've too much to live for!

I got out into the parking lot, looked down, and realized that the only thing I brought with me was the piece of paperwork I'd been clutching when the quake began. I felt like finding the student who gave me the paper and saying, "When disaster struck, yours was the only thing I thought to save!" I didn't feel too embarrassed, because one of our student workers was in the file room before she evacuated, and she brought the paper she'd been holding at the time as well. And it was one of my emails! Bonding moment!

Hanging out in the parking lot with everyone from my building was actually pretty fun. If we'd had a couple of kegs and a grill, we could have made an afternoon of it. Alas, they made us go back inside and work for another hour. We received emails and text messages telling us that "the buildings are secure and workers are to resume all activity." So I went back to copying my sexual organs on the Xerox.

You know. Like ya do.

Natural disasters--I use the word loosely, I don't know if much was actually damaged, especially not this far away from the epicenter--have a fun way of bringing people together. It doesn't matter who's the boss of who, or who makes more money than who (whom?). If that building goes down, peasant and noble are squished alike.

Terror of the wrath of the gods: the great equalizer.

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