Wednesday, August 24, 2011


You may have heard about this little event that occurred all along the Eastern seaboard in the US. An earthquake. Who woulda thunk it?

I was sitting at my desk, staring at the computer, starting to write an email and contemplating the first draft of a response to a letter. I felt the building shake. I thought, "what the hell is that?" I thought it was our roof collapsing, since it's being repaired. Then the building shook again and I thought that either we were under attack or that it was an earthquake. The latter seemed MUCH LESS LIKELY. I stood up from my desk and I looked around at our crappy "systems furniture" and thought that hiding under one of the desks might be just as dangerous as standing in teh middle of the sea of cubes. After I stood up, I faced a co-worker, who was looking at me with an equally puzzled expression. We both heard one of the managers around here walk down the hallway almost-but-not-quite-shouting, "Get Out. Get Out. Get Out." I gave my co-worker a little push towards the door and started to follow him--but I nipped back to my desk to grab my bag. We joined our entire building in a trek down the stairs and across the street.

Once outside, I looked up to the roof of the building, expecting to see smoke or dust or something to indicate a roof collapse or perhaps a bombing. Instead, I saw a clear, almost pristine sky. In the next few moments, one of my co-workers reported, via his twitter feed, that it had been a 5.8 earthquake originating in Mineral, VA. 

We all stood around the building, sharing news as we heard it. About an hour later, we got the word that we could go home. Those who had left necessary possessions (such as keys) inside, would be allowed to go back in, retrieve them, and then leave again. I was very glad I went back for my bag, even though, at the time, I knew it might be a stupid move.

I was getting my own twitter news by then that the metro was slowed to a crawl. I might have taken the bus but I could see they were packed too. Instead, I walked home, and met a couple of friends (Jeff and Lucy) at a bar by Union Station. We were not alone.

Two other notable things happened yesterday, some what related to dating. First, on the walk from my office to the bar, a man tagged along beside me, slowly riding his bicycle, for almost a mile. He told me my smile was great, my teeth were amazingly white (did I do anything special to make them so white?), my hair looked better down, he believed in God, God was Jewish, he was a lawyer (seemed unlikely), I should ride my bike more and he wanted to be my friend. All of this, naturally, culminated in a request for my phone number. I was preparing a response long before he asked. I thought about saying I had a boyfriend. I thought about presenting my friend Jeff, who I was on my way to meet, as my boyfriend. Then I thought, no, I was not going to do that.  When he finally asked for my number, I said, "I don't think so." He said, "Why not? What's your reason?" I said, "You are a complete stranger and I've said 'no thank you.' I don't have to give you a reason. You need to respect my decision." 

After that, he looked a bit deflated, but he didn't ask me again. He rode slowly and silently next to me for another few moments, then wished me well and rode off. Whew.

Later, when I got to the bar, my friends seemed astonished at the story. I told Jeff, "this is what happens to women!" I then proceeded to flirt shamelessly with a British guy who stumbled into our conversational group a few minutes later. Of course, it's completely different, but an interesting juxtaposition. In one case, the interaction was imposed on me. In the other, I was a full participant. In one case, I had no way to politely exit, in the other, I had my friends to back me up. At any rate, I had a such a long talk with this guy that my friends left us alone while they took a table and ordered a plate of wings.  Eventually, my flirting partner left, but not before giving me his copy of "The Guardian" (to read one of the articles, of course!). When I sat with my friends, they asked if I'd gotten the Brit's number or given him mine, I said no. I then noticed that since he subscribes to The Guardian, his name and (work) address were actually on the paper. Lucy said, "Do you have a card? You should give him your card. I'll give him your card." At that moment, the Brit walked by on his way to Union Station. Lucy took my card and ran after him. Now that's a good friend!  I doubt anything will come of it, since the Brit lives in New York and probably already has a girlfiend, but it was fun nevertheless. 

Maybe the earthquake was a good omen after all.

Grateful for: shaking things up.


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