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Shake, Rattle, and Roll: Are New Yorkers Really Earthquake Wimps?

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After a 5.9 earthquake hit the East coast, we New Yorkers all breathed a sigh of relief (once we knew it was Mother Nature shaking up our world and not some terrorist plot). Still, as buildings were evacuated and phone lines jammed, it felt like an eerie reminder of that day almost ten years ago now.

I was sitting at my desk with the chair up against the wall talking on the phone to my wife. Suddenly, I it felt like I was on the Cyclone at Coney Island. I asked her if she felt it too, and she said that the house was rattling. I looked at my lunch on my desk and water in my bottle listed back and forth, causing me to turn around to make sure it wasn’t a Jurassic Park moment. Thankfully, no huge dinosaur was trying to get into my office. Then it dawned on me: we just had an earthquake.

Once I hung up the phone I turned on the radio, and I again got that 9-11 kind of feeling. On every channel it seemed regular programming had stopped and reporters and anchors and people on the street were reacting to this seismic event. Some people sounded hysterical; others were like most New Yorkers reacting to something and took it in their stride.

Still, afterwards it seemed like we all panicked a bit too much. We yelled a bit too vociferously, ran down the stairs and out into the street a little too quickly, and starting calling everyone we knew and loved ones to make sure they were in on the collective lunacy post earthquake.

Meanwhile, we hear that those hardy (or is it hardened?) earthquake experts out on the West coast all thought we were earthquake wimps. This is similar to the Mid-westerners calling us blizzard wimps. We have heard it all before and are basically inured to such insults now.

I’d hope the rest of the country and the world would forgive New Yorkers for being a little bit on edge. I mean, after all, the tenth anniversary of 9-11 is a few weeks away, and there has been chatter that the bad guys are going to do something to mark the anniversary.

I still walk down the street and shiver if I see a large plane going overhead. I don’t know if I will ever lose that and I make no apologies for it. The images of 9-11 are so etched in my mind, the nightmares spawned by that video clip of the planes going into the Twin Towers still come and go, and the thoughts of friends and family lost do not recede: they only get stronger.

So, yes, maybe we New Yorkers are earthquake wimps, but so what? We still navigate the frenzied streets of the greatest city of the world: we hike through the canyons of skyscrapers, and we brave the bridges and tunnels and rails despite all that has happened or has been threatened to happen. We have heard “If you see something; say something” for years, and now the rest of the country is getting with the program. So I don’t wish what happened to New York on any other place or people, but you can’t really judge us until you’ve gone through what we went through.

We earthquake wimps got back to normal today, but now we are shivering our timbers over Hurricane Irene heading in our direction. Yeah, go ahead and call us hurricane wimps. We can take it. Now, excuse me while I go out and get the batteries, the flashlights, cases of water, and some canned goods just in case Irene is as bad as they say she will be.

 

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About Victor Lana

Victor Lana has published numerous stories, articles, and poems in literary magazines and online. His books In a Dark Time (1994), A Death in Prague (2002), Move (2003), The Savage Quiet September Sun: A Collection of 9/11 Stories (2005) and Like a Passing Shadow (2009) are available online and as e-books. He has won the National Arts Club Award for Poetry, but has concentrated mostly on fiction and non-fiction prose in recent years. He has worked as faculty advisor to school literary magazines and enjoys the creative process as a writer, editor, and collaborator. He has been with Blogcritics since July 2005, has edited many articles, was co-head sports editor with Charley Doherty, and now is a Culture and Society editor. He views Blogcritics as one of most exciting, fresh, and meaningful opportunities in his writing life.