Yesterday, there was an earthquake (California).
This weekend, Hurricane Irene is likely to slam us (the Caribbean).
Last year, there were tornadoes in Brooklyn and Queens (Kansas).
Since when did I live in an extreme weather city? The only thing extreme about our weather is how unbearably hot/humid it gets in the subway stations during the summer! Yes, dear reader, I was part of the “Eastern Quake” yesterday and experienced one of the better effects of it: working on one of the top floors of a midtown Manhattan office building and feeling the building itself shake and sway for about 30 seconds. It was incredibly freaky to say the least and not an experienced I’d like to repeat. My thought process went something like this: terrorist attack? Bomb? Did the idiot construction workers downstairs knock out the building support? Only after cycling through these scenarios (the first two were eliminated due to the absence of loud noises) it finally occurred to me that this was an earthquake! Wait…what? An earthquake? Well, hmmm…what do I do?!? Board up the windows? No…that’s for hurricanes. Get to the basement? Well, that’s for tornadoes but is it the same for an earthquake? Oh hell I dunno…lemme just grab my cell phone and my ID in case a cop stops me and get out of here (New Yorker’s “survival” gear)!
Interestingly enough I found some of my coworkers already by the elevators waiting (isn’t it funny how little we know of what to do in an earthquake?) and suggested that it might be a good idea to take the stairs. Call it intuition on my part. After the unexpected midday stair workout, we get to the street and determine that standing next to a tall building might not be the best idea (we had no idea if it was over, just starting, or what…again, we don’t really know much about earthquakes) to which I pointed out one tiny complication: how exactly are we supposed to find a spot that’s not next to a tall building in midtown? We ended up at Madison Square Park where there are only trees because falling trees, after all, are probably easier to dodge than falling buildings. In all seriousness, we had some people with us who were here during 9/11 and vividly remember what it was like to have the towers coming down and what happened to the people on the street when they did. While yesterday’s event was ultimately harmless, in a city like New York you simply can’t avoid thinking about that.
As the quake was happening and right afterward I was able to shoot of a quick text that our building was being evacuated due to what I thought was an earthquake, but after that cell service was pretty much nonexistent. I wasn’t able to send a text responding to Margot’s “WHAT?” text after I’d sent one telling her my building was being evacuated. Everyone’s cell phones were saying “oh yeah? You want to call people on the outside and tell them you’re okay? Well too bad!! hahahaha! No email, no text, no social networking for you right now as news reports start blaring about a 5.8 earthquake on the East Coast!” This lasted for a good half hour or so, and some people I knew reported that they still couldn’t use their phones more than an hour later. So, good to know that we can rely on cell service if, god forbid, another attack were to happen here. It took all of two minutes for service to go down and at least 30 minutes to come back intermittently.
It became apparent pretty quickly that we’d experienced the worst of it and nothing else was really going to happen. At this point what makes New York the greatest place to live in the world started coming out via Twitter, news article commentary, and Facebook: tongue-in-cheek snarky reactions from those who experienced the “Eastern Quake” 2011. Here are some of my favorite excerpts:
My neighbor called out, “Whose shaking the building?” Our super called out, “God!”
Felt a litle wobble here is Astoria, but none of my Scotch fell off the shelf.
When it happened I just figured my upstairs neighbor was just vacuuming using about 12 vacuums at once.
This is what happens when they try to open a monument to a black man in D.C. [Tweet from @ElieNYC]
Behold, I have punished NY for their gay-marrying ways!! … Oh shit, I missed. Sorry, Virginia! [Tweet from @almightygod…I have no idea if this person lives in NYC or not but I still found it funny.]
Oh, and to the Californians / West Coasters scoffing and poking fun over the “reaction” from this side, three things: a) yes, some peoples’ reactions were a little much, but thanks to our distinct lack of these events, much of our older infrastructure and many of our buildings are not designed to withstand a direct hit from something like an earthquake, so bugger off; b) you live in the land of constant earthquakes (apparently anyway according to your reactions yesterday); and c) you completely freak out about a 3-day long construction closure of one of your highways, which was planned in advance (which did not produce any significant traffic delays by the way)…who wins the “which coast is better” debate here?
Also? Your pizza and bagels suck. So there.