Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Big One

I presaged the whole earthquake thing without even realizing it!  But the other day, Peggy and I were on the way with my sister, who is a great deal older than I, over to Mom's to help move her to another room at the Senior Living Paradise, and I was playing a home-burned CD in my truck.  One of the many songs I was hoping to get Peggy to enjoy was "This Old House," sort of a rockabilly-gospel tune originally done by Stuart Hamblen but updated by one Shakin' Stevens.   


So as the afternoon wore on, we were moving, working, hanging pictures, jawjacking with the friends and neighbors, and then just before two o'clock, the floor started to shake.


Then so did the bed, and the newly-hung pictures, and even I, usually as staunch as an old oak tree, felt myself becoming quavery.  Everyone was looking around, saying, "Was that an earthquake?"

You see, we here in Maryland are used to a lot of things, but earthquakes ain't one of 'em!  The funniest quip of the day went to my Facebook friend Roxie, who statused, "I just checked the weather forecast this morning and they didn't say anything about earthquakes today!"   

We are used to blizzards, thunderstorms, heat, humidity, more heat, more humidity, and all sorts of weather extremes.  We're no strangers to hurricanes, although a real Baltimorean calls them "HAIR-uh-kins."  In fact, we're expecting the remnants of one this weekend ( a hurricane, not a real Baltimorean.)

So our friends from out West had to step up and clue us in on earthquake etiquette.  It is proper form to ask if everyone is OK, and then to look around, roll the eyebrows, and say what you THOUGHT it was at first (truck going by, a crane dropping something on the roof, a gust of wind, Moammar Qaddafi...)

It's not too bright to do what the people in the office building across from Mom's palace did.  They dutifully evacuated and then stood in the shade of the building, three feet from the building.  Which means that if the building had crumbled and tumbled, they would be picking bits of glass out of their hair and clothing until late next week, thereby missing the hurricane.

When we got home and turned on the news, we found that thousands of people had run into the streets, panicked, and drove home the same way.  The evening rush hour was over in time for everyone to get home and watch Dr Phil, and then they wished they had stayed at work.

Also on the news, I saw a reporter tell us that everyone who had to evacuate the Sons of Italy Hall in Fells Point was "shooken up" when a portion of their building collapsed.  

And everyone got on their cell phones and home phones and desk phones and tried to call everyone else's cell phone, home phone and desk phone.  And everyone found out that if everyone is trying to make a phone call all at the same time, no one's call is getting through.  Better to wait a while, in case someone really needs to call 911 or something. And the news said later, people were flooding the 911 lines, calling to see, "Was that an earthquake we just had, or what?"  

This is not the reason why there is a 911, and remember, next time you're tempted to call them and ask such a question, someone else might be having a real emergency, but can't get through because you are asking 911 what's going on.  Tune to FOX News!  No, wait.

And that was when I really started to shake!  I was Shakin'!  No, shooken.

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