Earthquake (un-)preparedness

My head was a little foggy when I returned from lunch Tuesday afternoon. Well acquainted as I am with this particular brand of allergy-induced haze, I popped a couple of Tylenol then settled in at my desk to wait for the pills to work their magic on my mounting headache. So, when the earth started doing that whole swaying thing, I initially wrote it off as yet another symptom of my allergy woes.

Until that is, I heard a chorus of voices from around the newsroom, asking: “Did you feel that?” “What the heck was that?” and, my personal favorite, “Holy *&#^!”

The ground, and indeed the building around us, was still doing its little shimmy as one of my coworkers ran through a laundry list of possible natural and man-made disasters that could be at the root of the issue. None of them seismic in nature, I might add.

“It’s an earthquake,” I said, all nonchalant like, as I calmly plonking myself in my desk chair.

Yes, that’s right. There I was, the earth moving beneath my feet a la Carole King. And I was completely calm.

Which, in and of itself, was even more startling than the fact that we were in the middle of an earthquake. And, believe me, no one was more surprised than me.

See, I’ve always had a deep-seated fear of natural disasters. Particularly earthquakes.

In fact, this aversion to the very thought of the havoc wreaked by the movement of the earth’s tectonic plates was enough to deter me from moving to sunny Southern California. Which I did actually contemplate for a period of 28 seconds a few months after I graduated from college.

Yet, here I was, completely unfazed by the (surprisingly rhythmic) movement all around me.

Unlike Brian Golden, whose response I would liken to a scared, 6-year old girl. (Sorry, Bri. Just calling it like I – and everyone else in the newsroom – saw it.)

While Brian was spouting end of the world prophesies, I was “tweeting” about the experience via Twitter, texting Chenango County’s weather guru, A Jones and jumping on the USGS website to see what just happened.

I was also fielding phone calls from people calling to (a) verify what had just happened or (b) to make sure their hometown daily newspaper was aware of what had just happened. We got so many of those calls, in fact, that it took me almost an hour to post the breaking news to our website.

We, of course, got off easy compared to what people closer to the quake’s epicenter experienced. But it was still an adrenaline boost for those of us un-initiated in the trembling of the earth. And a test of our mettle. A test which some of us, ahem, handled better than others.

We, of course, ratted Brian out for his sissified behavior to Jeff and, well, anyone who would listen. And, predictably, he continues to deny the allegations that he “panicked like a little girl.” To varying degrees of success.

“No I didn’t,” he insisted to our editor, Jeff Genung, after deadline on Wednesday. “I started singing R.E.M. And then I went to the bathroom to change my pants.”

Let me guess, Brian. “The end of the world as we know it?”

I rest my case.

Follow me on Twitter ... @evesunmelissa.

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