Tuesday, July 29, 2008

My first earthquake

Emily is not really a panicky kind of person. My mom used to get all mad when I brought home a C in geometry and I'd be like "eh." When I was robbed at AIDS needlepoint in Dublin I was like "You can't have my money and what's that for?" When I was mugged in Hollywood I chased the guy down without my shoes on.

I don't really get scared by the things that scare most people. I'm fairly convinced it will eventually be my undoing. I will have a hero's demise - not because I'm an actual hero, but because I'm too stupid to know better.

So today, as you may already know, the earth around Orange County shook. I was about 45 miles away in my school at my desk emailing a friend while my kids worked on these cool first amendment persuasion projects I'm making them do.

My desk shook and I looked up, angrily, to see which little pissant was jostling my desk when they were supposed to be researching school uniforms. And nobody was there.

I looked around. "Is this an earthquake?" I asked.

"YES!!!!" the kids all screamed as they scrambled around the room in a panic.

I stood up and looked around. The TV kind of wobbled. I hoped it didn't fall.

"What are we supposed to do?" I asked. The kids were too busy screaming to answer.

I've never been through and earthquake before. I grew up in hurricane territory. I know that if there's a tornado you're supposed to line up in the hallway and kneel down and cover your head with your hands. I know that if there's a fire we all have to line up and run out of the room into the grass outside. And if there's a hurricane I know the only way to handle it is to run outside with sparklers and wade in the water, or perhaps to throw a frisbee down the hall in your dorm room.

But we've never had an earthquake drill. Hell, we haven't had a fire drill in over a year. Every time the alarm goes off we ignore it until the principal comes over the intercom to tell us to continue to ignore it. If I don't die in a moment of ignorant heroics, I will most likely burn to death while my class sits and waits for instructions.

So when the earth started shaking I sort of stood there, wondering if the roof would collapse and asking the kids if they knew what one was supposed to do in this sort of situation. For most of them it was their first earthquake too, so they were sort of wandering around trying to figure out if there was a magic spot where the land was still.

At least I didn't do like that one teacher who just ran straight out of the room, leaving her kids behind to be crushed to death.

We made it through okay and the TV didn't fall down. And apparently I was supposed to make them all get under their desks and wait it out. I'll do that next time.


  1. Anonymous6:01 PM

    I think if you're in an earthquake, you have to OPEN all the windows...

    Then escape.

    Used to be that kids would have to get under their desks until a heating/air conditioning unit fell through the ceiling and smashed a 3rd grader.

    I just feel better OUTSIDE when they occur.


  2. Not to mention that, in China, the kids were told to hide under their desks instead of evacuating, then the building collapsed. The only major loss of life because they did not leave. I'd say our buildings are probably built better, until you factor in that the schools are built by the government. Our government that prefers to have the lowest bidding contractor get the job.

  3. does it matter if we practice for it? When anything over 8.0 hits, kids are gonna get squashed. You gotta protect YOU; you're the adult who's going to save them.

  4. Earthquakes are nothing to be cavalier about (thus I plead the fifth on my own reaction), but goddamn are Angelenos a bunch of pussies.

    I found it funny that amid all the people I was with when the building started to shake, it was those that had plenty of experience with earthquakes who were running around like headless chickens. They made my scaredy-cat cats look like ferocious tigers.

    And it was along the lines of knowing what they were dealing with, they were just the most irrational about it. In the Midwest, if a tornado was about to hit, you knew what to do. Here, people don't seem to think much of preparation. I can't believe the number of people out here who don't have an earthquake kit in their homes.

    LA's a testing ground for Darwin's theory... Something to add to Angeleno's fear of water, thunder, and temperatures below 40 degrees, I guess.

  5. I grew up in a place that has almost no natural disasters (sure, a tornado once every five years and ice storms on a yearly basis) and I know what to do in an earthquake.

    Evacuate if possible, if not, get underneath something (like a desk).

    If you're lying down in the middle of a field, and earthquake can't hurt you.

    Though I will confess to having no idea what to do if a hurricane hits... though unlike earthquakes you can see them coming and prepare.

  6. Your supposed to get under a desk and then count to 20 (presumably the amount of time it takes the earthquake to pass through) then get the hell out of the building until it has been inspected - poked with a large metal stick I presume.

    I live near Chino Hills. Felt like a truck hit my house, so I was walking out the door for someone to yell at when I figured out it was an earthquake.

    Once outside I looked around and saw dozens of people on cell phones looking hysterical. No wonder the phone lines went down. Yeesh.


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