Lately, I’ve been thinking about earthquakes. It’s probably because I’m tired and my brain doesn’t go to a nice place, when stressed. Instead of a babbling brook, I think “natural disaster” — to relax.
I’ve been in a tiny earthquake since moving to LA. I didn’t feel it at all. But I think about them every time I drive into an underground parking structure. Or get stuck in traffic under an overpass.
Remember last year when the east coast had that earthquake? At the time, I was working at BLT in Hollywood, designing movie posters. I was working in my cubicle when my Mom texted me “Les is ok. A little shaken.” I had no idea what she was even writing about. I quickly found out my sister was working at John’s Hopkins when the quake hit. East coast buildings being ill-equipped for Jell-O Jigglers, it was a little scary.
I mentioned to my coworker Chuck “Did you hear about that earthquake on the east coast?” He said no, but that they usually move across the country and that we’d probably have one soon in LA.
It wasn’t long before there was a small quake in Colorado that same day. Some quick, irrational calculations on my part, and I decided we’d be swaying uncontrollably on the 7th floor of the CNN building in no time.
I was getting nervous, so of course I had to pee. Alone. In the 1970’s bathroom stall where I was sure I would die momentarily. Also alone. A dignified entombment with my jeans around my ankles and my rigid hand still gripping a wad of toilet paper. With any luck, I would fall off the toilet and poop myself, post-mortem.
I tried to “work” at my desk. I messaged my coworker Brian “Hey B. Have you ever been in an earthquake in this building?” He said yeah. When I asked what you’re supposed to do, he said “hope and pray.” My racing heart kicked me in the neck.
I asked Chuck, sitting next to me, what to do. He was older – he HAD to have been in earthquakes, being an LA native. Chuck: “Just pick up your feet and roll around in your desk chair! Enjoy it! Life’s short, man!”
My heart was pounding out of my chest. I tried to breathe myself through the makings of a panic attack. I put in my headphones, turned on the Pandora tunes and made slow headway on my project. My thoughts vacillated between “I will be the cream in a concrete Oreo” to “maybe I can run down the stairs faster than anyone else”.
My mustache was sweating and my hands were shaking. Seriously. Why was this rippling quake-across-the-nation taking so long to reach us….
At that moment, Brian (remember “hope and pray”?) attempted a joke on me. What he meant to do was come up behind me and shake my cubicle a little bit. Hilarious.
What happened was that the one partition was connected to all the little cube walls around me and my neighbor Chuck. Including my desk, my computer, my lamp — and Chuck’s entire desk. Since I had my headphones in, I couldn’t hear anything in the room and what I SAW, was everything shaking uncontrollably, and Chuck — who I instantly looked to for “HELP WHAT SHOULD WE DO” — laughing hysterically and kinda… rolling around in his roll-y desk chair. LIKE HE SAID HE WOULD.
In total panic, I flung my headphones from my ears and said “IT’S HAPPENING!!!!!!” as I turned around to see Brian laughing behind me.
I punched him.
A bead of my mustache sweat hit the floor, and I sat back down in my chair.
It was kind of ok, how it worked out. No terrifying earthquake, and I felt like I survived something that day. My @%#&$* co-workers.