Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Earth Shaking

The last time I was in a real earthquake was over ten years ago, with a smattering of Central American rumbles in between. So yesterday, sitting at my desk typing away at some VERY important email, the last thing I expected to experience was a decent sized earthquake. The general sense in my hallway, as people stood in their doorways looking at each other, was complete bewilderment. I mean, we knew that it was an earthquake, but that just wasn't possible here in middle of the eastern seaboard. After the shaking stopped, there was not an announcement about what to do, so most of us returned to our desks until instructed otherwise. My coworkers crowded around my computer to witness the wonder that is twitter (a new fangled concept to most of them) as the tweets rolled in from as far away as Boston confirming that indeed, we had experienced an earthquake.

Ten minutes later, a crackly voice came over the ancient PA system, telling us to evacuate the building. It seems that that agency that houses the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS to most of you) should be able to get information to its employees more quickly than the time it takes to update all of my social media and send a few emails, but alas, not so.  That being said, the USGS twitter feed was updated much more quickly.

I grabbed my purse, anticipating that our nearly 100-year old building might take awhile to deem safe, and headed outside. The parks of Foggy Bottom were already packed with excited feds from all of the neighboring offices. The Office of Personel Management, the General Services Administration, the Federal Reserve, and the State Department all mingled with the Department of the Interior as we soaked up some sun and checked our blackberries, updating each other on the tidbits of news that were flashing across our respective digital leashes. About 20 mins passed before people started moving back inside and the Interior folks were told to grab their things, get out of the building, and go home.  Seriously? An absolutely perfect 80-degree, no humidity day in DC and the fates have granted us the afternoon off?

The Feds of Foggy Bottom gladly take a break outside while awaiting word on the safety of our buildings. 

It was too good to be true and this good fortune deserved a drink.  And I was not the only one thinking along these lines. I headed to the closest bar and met up with my partner in crime, where we enjoyed a refreshing beverage alongside a few hundred other suits, all enjoying the perfect summer version of a snow day. Word was that the metro and buses were a mess, so what was the point of trying, right?

Today my building is still closed for inspection, so I'm doing my best to work from home while preparing for a few days of vacation.  The unexpected seismic event was fortunately mild, and so a most welcome break from the everyday.



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