This past Tuesday, I was sitting at my desk at work, minding my own business, when the floor suddenly began to shake. It was so subtle at first that I thought someone was walking really hard down the hallway. You know those people who weigh like ten pounds so they have to stomp everywhere they go so that their presence can be felt? I had a manager who used to do that. The good thing about her was that she never caught us doing anything we weren’t supposed to be doing. We always knew when she was coming, which gave us ample time to run to our desks, minimize Facebook, pull up a random spreadsheet, and begin staring at it as if we were analyzing something important. We’d hear the stomping, and ten minutes later, she’d arrive. I often wondered why her feet hadn’t revolted against her in protest. I certainly would have. But I digress.
Ironically, when I turned to see who was walking hard enough to shake my chair, there actually was a manager of another department heading toward me. Just as I was about to ask her why she was walking so hard, I noticed that she’d stopped moving, but the floor hadn’t. Logically, at first I thought that maybe she’d just had a big lunch, and the floor was simply adjusting to the fact that she’d chosen to eat several burritos in one sitting. My next thought was that she’d probably been promoted again and her first big challenge was to shake things up a bit—starting with me. However, when the cube walls, the potted plants, and my stapler began to shake a little more intensely, we both realized that this could mean only one thing: We were having an earthquake.
In hindsight, if there are cameras at my job, I’m glad the management team didn’t leak the footage of our earthquake reactions to the press. If they had, I would have been one of those people on the nightly news that make viewers throw pork chops at the screen while yelling, “You’re in the middle of an earthquake! Why aren’t you running? Why are you still sitting in front of that computer while pieces of the ceiling and light fixtures are launching themselves at your head? Sure, you may get hit with a few cinder blocks in order to get the work done, but you’re still going to be ranked average on your next performance review. Dummy!”
Honestly, running or hiding under my desk were the last thoughts that came to mind. Instead, I was overtaken by a sense of wonder: This is what an earthquake feels like. Very rumbly, if you ask me. Not really frightening, though. That noted, when the manager asked “Is this an earthquake?” as calmly as she would have asked a cashier at Wal-Mart if batteries were on sale this week, it seemed rather appropriate. Oh, and another reason I didn’t freak out is because I’m a big, strong man. There was no way I was embarrassing myself by screaming and running through the office while everyone else was all calm—at least not again. Don’t judge me. That was a very big cricket that one time. All in all, I think I handled the earthquake pretty well, but I’m certainly not looking forward to the next one. Let’s just say I won’t be placing any orders for one off Amazon or eBay any time soon.
Because of the earthquake, I now think everything that moves is due to the earthquake. If a book falls on the floor, I blame it on an earthquake. If my stomach starts to rumble, I think it’s an earthquake. If my car runs out of gas, it’s probably because of an earthquake. Completely reasonable, right? Since the quake, I randomly find myself thinking that I feel the ground moving. Of course, this gets me all excited and I ask the nearest stranger if they feel it too. They never do. Then, when I start shaking them hysterically because I think they’re lying, they often call the police and put out restraining orders against me. It’s not my fault though. I mean, I’ve been through something very traumatic, and it’s normal to be a tad bit distraught. Anyway, my team of shrinks say that I shouldn’t worry too much about it. My newly increased dosage of medication will ensure that I feel nothing else for a really long time. What a relief.
And just when I was getting used to my new status as an earthquake victim, the weatherman began reporting that Hurricane Irene was due to hit us before the week was out. Great, I thought. I had survived the earthquake just to have my house blown around as if I were from Kansas and my name was Toto or something. Because my mother had advised me to get an emergency kit together so that I could survive a few days if I didn’t have access to electricity, I bought a pack of Oreo cookies and some Doritos to snack on during the downtime. Neither required the use of a microwave or a stove so I knew they were good choices. I didn’t bother wasting money on water because I figured I’d be able to just set a couple glasses outside while it was raining and then I’d have my few days’ worth of water after I removed the leaves and other debris that may have fallen in. See how smart I am?
When the hurricane arrived Saturday night, I had the usual fears that any normal person would have during such an event. I wondered if my cable would go out. I wondered if trees in the area would fall on my apartment or my car, or worse, on Kohl’s. Because of this, I prayed that all the shirts in stock would be safe. I tried to sleep through it, but the winds were too heavy and often sounded like a train approaching—or like that manager who started the earthquake. As much as we’d been warned to stay away from the windows, I couldn’t help but look out into the darkness, which was very unnerving. The trees were bent unnaturally and I wondered how much more pressure from the wind they could take. I then imagined something random—like a book or a French fry—coming through the window and hitting me in the head. The thought made me quickly run to my bed and duck my head under the covers to wait for things to blow over—no pun intended.
Surprisingly, I woke up the next morning to the sound of my TV still playing in the background. Naturally, I thought I had died. My power and cable have gone out for everything from birds flying by, to me not paying my bills; there was no way we’d endured hurricane-force winds and neither service had been disrupted. Had we? Was I in heaven? If so, it looked a lot like my apartment. I slowly walked over to the same window that I’d darted from the night before. Besides leaves being everywhere, you would have never known that we’d just been through yet another natural disaster. My car was still there and so was Kohl’s. I rejoiced. In one week, I’d survived an earthquake and a hurricane. As the sun peaked out from behind the clouds, I knew it was going to be a good day. Wait, what’s this I hear about a tornado!!!
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