Thursday, July 22, 2010
Where Were You When...?
Today's assignment, should I choose to accept it (& I do) is "Where were you when the earthquake struck." Since no particular earthquake was mentioned & I've been in many earthquakes, my answer takes more than one form.
When I was a child, my family lived in California, land of the earthquake. There were so many earthquakes, in fact, that the rumor was one day the whole state would fall into the ocean, creating a new coastline for the country. Scary stuff, for a child & more than a few adults. They happened so often that I got to know the signs. They would start with a low rumble, kind of like the sound of a train, coming down the tracks. The ground would shake a bit & sometimes it stopped there, just a tremor. Other times, it was more intense. Earthquakes were so frequent that we often held earthquake drills, practiced what to do, learned the safest places to be. Later, my family moved to Arizona & earthquakes were infrequent, I felt safer, in the knowledge that I was no longer living in a place that might fall into the ocean at some unknown point in time.
Eventually, I moved to Washington state & while earthquakes are not as frequent, we've had two very intense quakes, in the time I've lived in the state. These have been quakes that started deeper in the earth than the more shallow ones I experienced in California. The first was when my son was still a baby. I was at work, at a little comic/book store. Maybe it was a the way the building was built or maybe it was where it was built, but we didn't feel the quake. We heard about the quake from customers that came into the store; the sometimes funny, sometimes interesting & often, being comic book & sci fi fans, geeky (not unlike some of us) customers that came in & entertained us with their unusual stories. At first we didn't believe them, thinking maybe it was one of their jokes or tales, but it was on the news & we started getting calls from family & friends. I worried about my son, who was with a baby sitter, a friend from work. She stood in a doorway & held him through the quake & I'm not sure how much he experienced, but the baby sitter said he was more calm than she was. The quake was centered in a more rural area & not much damage was caused in our area.
The other quake also happened while I was at work (this time at a big box music/book store) & my son was at school. I was in the music department, located on the second floor of the store & I heard the quake coming, like an old memory of my days in California. The floor shook, not just a little, more like waves & the surf was a floor that we had to ride in order to stay standing. The doorway was located in between & under large panes of glass. It didn't seem like a good place to stand, so I stayed where I was, behind the registers & in front of a display of DVDs, not necessarily a great place to stand, but better than near lots of glass. One of my coworkers asked if we should go downstairs. I said probably not, as either we'd possibly be there soon enough, anyway. There was also the thought that if we went downstairs, we might have the upstairs collapse on us. She was in the center of the room, at the giant, circular information desk, that I liked calling the info barge, probably the safest place in the store. Another of my coworkers was downstairs in the womens restroom thinking, as she later told me, about how horrible it would be if her last moments ended up being in the restroom. We all survived. Some books & DVDs came off the shelves, but that was the extent of the damage. Other areas had more damage & my real worries were for my son, my husband & my home. All were ok, but we were scattered & I wasn't sure how we would be reunited, if there were problems. Another story, for maybe another day, was the interview that I had later that day, with the store manager, not the best timing, but that's for another day...Anyway, those are my earthquake stories, at least the ones I remember.
Have you ever been in an earthquake? Where were you & what did you do? What was your experience like?