So I’m downtown at [agency redacted] going through the second step of getting an official Government Identity Card from the Department of
Big Brother Is Watching You Homeland Security, when the building starts going rumba-rumba-rumba-rumba and we all start giving each other quizzical looks. One guy says, “It’s the train, it runs right behind the building.”
Looking at the windows buckling in the building across the street, I say, “That’s a hell of a train!”
Fingerprint and Registration Lady says, “That’s no train, that’s an earthquake!” just as it comes to a stop. She adds, “If it had kept on going, I would have evacuated.” (The “floor warden” vest and helmet hanging in her cubicle added weight to the statement.) With perfect sitcom timing, a security guy steps in the door and says, “We’re evacuating the building. Everybody out!”
Turns out, it’s the largest earthquake ever recorded in Virginia — which is not that impressive on the global scale of earthquakes, but given that our usual amount of earthquakes is nil plus heavy traffic, it’s quite discombobulating. (Imagine southern California reacting to three feet of snow — the sheer “what do we DO with this”-ness of it makes it comparable.) Fortunately, there doesn’t appear to have been a lot of damage and I’ve heard no reports of injuries so far — the biggest problem has been dealing with people’s reactions to it.
Basically, every building over six stories or so appears to have been evacuated and everybody was either sent home or stood around the sidewalks of D.C., chuckling nervously and making jokes about whether or not the earthquake damaged the debt ceiling, har har. All of the phone services were blocked to “non-emergency” use, making Twitter the only means of communication for a while, and even that was slow, but I was grateful to have anything at that stage.
The Metrorail was closed for about twenty minutes while they checked there was no damage to the tracks, and then the trains all operated at 15 MPH (presumably to minimize the chances of a major accident due to aftershocks). This made for a long and stressful ride home for me — I cannot seem to ride the Metro without there being an annoying 6-year-old boy next to me the whole time. You’ll be happy to know that 6-year-old boys still sing “Plop-plop, fizz-fizz, oh what a relief it is,” still think it’s hilarious, and still think that nobody else has ever heard it before and therefore want to hear it over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.
But I digress.
The point is, we’re all home and fine now, and very grateful for the concerned texts and e-mails. This was not my first earthquake, but it was the first strong and extended one, so I can at least add that to my list of life experiences.
Unfortunately, I still don’t have the gov’t ID, so it’s back to [agency redacted] again on Thursday to try again. Watch that be the day Klaatu comes back.