Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Some day, everything east of California is going to slide into the Atlantic Ocean


So at around 11:50am today, there was a jolt, and I thought that our old HVAC system where I work had finally shit the bed, because it was like that shudder when the AC switches on, only magnified about a thousand times. Then I thought, wait, did someone on the second floor drop something really heavy on the ceiling above my head? And then I thought, you idiot, it's a motherfucking earthquake.

I was on the phone with corporate HR at the time, and the person on the other end of the line, I think in Denver, was rattling on about new hire paperwork procedures when I finally realized what was happening:

HR: So I'll forward to you the form, which requires a Social Security number...
Me: I'm sorry to interrupt, but I've got to go. We're having an earthquake.
HR: What?
(click)

A 5.4 no less, the strongest earthquake I've felt since living in LA (I moved here right after the 1994 Northridge 6.7). I did feel some pretty strong aftershocks in the months following the Northridge quake, but my tendency was always to misinterpret them. I was watching tv, and after my very first LA aftershock, my ex grabbed my hand and said "Are you okay? Are you scared?" I said "What do you mean?" He gave me a significant look. I said "What? That wasn't a truck driving by?" In Chicago, the city I had just come from, when the earth moves it's because there's a semi barreling down your street.

One time at work, after feeling my chair pitch, I called the Facilities Manager and asked him if the Space Shuttle had just flown by on its way to land at Edwards, and the Facilites Manager was all "What are you talking about? That was an earthquake. You don't know what an earthquake feels like?"

In my own defense, if you've never felt a sonic boom, it's definitely jolting. The last time the Shuttle flew by on its way to land at Edwards, it woke me out of a sound sleep. I had to go outside to make sure my neighbor's gas line hadn't exploded, which I was pretty sure it had. In the early dawn light, as I looked down the block, I saw another neighbor standing in the street in his PJs, looking similarly unnerved. We waved.

One thing about living in a big city, especially one as, um, accident-prone as LA, is that relatives and friends are frequently calling me or emailing because they heard something terrible is happening in my general vicinity. My sister made a joke this morning about quake season starting before fire season was over, which of course reminded me of the old joke about LA. People who don't live in LA think we don't have any seasons here, they think it's just 78 degrees and sunny all the time. But we do have four seasons. They are:

Earthquakes
Wildfires
Mudslides
Sweeps

Thanks, folks! I'll be here all week! Under my desk! Cowering!

Good night!

10 comments:

SkylersDad said...

My only earthquake experience was in San Diego back in the Navy. We were coming back into harbor when it struck, and it was very weird because we were dampened from the quake because we were out in the middle of the harbor. A friend and I were both standing on the bridge wing looking at the city, and everything got really blurry. Then the ship started rockin about 20 seconds later.

kirby said...

It freaked the dog out, but then again she's a wuss.

I remember the Northridge quake. It felt like the house was trying to catch waves that just kept on rolling and rolling.

'Bubbles' said...

I thought of you and Kirby immediately, Vikki.

Glad it wasn't the big one!

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Be careful sweetie, we can't afford to lose you.

Jess said...

I felt it up here in Ventura! I thought it was Jeff messing with me by shaking the couch. Nope. My dog slept through it and my cats looked pretty bored by the whole thing. So much for animals sensing stuff!

CiscoKid said...

The news and some people here in Vegas are making such a fuss as if the earthquake had happened here. I lived in L.A. through the whittier and Northridge earthquakes.
You eventualy just sit through them and wait for the ground to stop moving and or shaking.

Larry Jones said...

Oh, yeah: L.A. ROCKS!!

Doc said...

Just remeber to check your earthquake survival kit: water, matches, flashlight with fresh batteries, first aid kit, energy bars, blanket, honey roasted peanuts, flares, and three cases of booze, preferably something you can drink without ice.

Oh yeah, and the pump shotgun to fend off the rioters and flesh eating zombies. Go check your kit now, as we can't afford to lose you in some natural disaster. FEMA would spend two years trying to dig you out with a $40 million dollar shovel and hire teamsters to do it.

Remind me never to ask you "what's shaking?"

Doc

Grant Miller said...

"down in Santa Rosa over the bay
across the grapevine to L.A.
we've got desert, we've got trees
we've got the hills of Beverly
let's burn the hills of Beverly!!"

GETkristiLOVE said...

I think I first heard that joke in 1980, when I lived there.