This week is the anniversary of the 1906 earthquake, and that got me thinking: Where were you went it hit?
But seriously, after living here your whole life, are earthquakes just old hat to you now? Or is it something you never get used to?
Shake It Like It's 1906
I hate the yearly anniversaries of the 1906 and 1989 quakes! Those days always shake me out of my nice little solid ground bubble, forcing me to remember that we all could die very painful deaths, at any moment, when a quake hits and we're crushed by falling objects and collapsing buildings.
So, no, despite spending my entire life here, and living through one big one — an experience detailed here — I still leap to attention at the slightest bit of shaking, be it the wind making my wooden apartment building sway, a truck rumbling down the street, or just someone running down the hall. I'm always convinced it's The Big One.
Which is pointless, really, because I have never actually done anything other than stand frozen in terror whenever an actual quake has hit. I haven't run under a desk, ducked and covered, or stood in a doorway (though that's probably for the best, as turns out all my grade school teachers were wrong, and that's NOT the safest place to be when an earthquake hits). I just stand, frozen, like the proverbial deer in the headlights.
And it's one of those fears I can't just avoid. I'm also scared of flying, but if I don't want to die in a plane crash, I can just not get on a plane. The only way to truly avoid dying in a earthquake is to not live where there are earthquakes, and yet, I'm still here! Turns out it's easier to live with a constant low-level fear than it is to pack up and leave your home, job, friends, and family to go live somewhere with more solid ground.
So instead, it becomes one of those dangers I just choose to willfully ignore, whenever possible. Kind of like how I know that, statistically, I'm more likely to get killed in a car accident than I am flying, and yet flying is the bigger fear. I'm willfully ignoring the dangers of ground transportation because if I didn't, I'd basically never leave my house. (And then I would definitely be killed by my falling ceiling!)
And speaking of statistics, there's not even that to fall back on, like there is with the fear of flying and statistical improbabilities of crashing. Whenever Bay Area earthquakes are discussed by the experts or the media, they inevitably toss out the always reassuring line, "It's not if a giant earthquake hits, but WHEN." Thanks for the nightmare fuel!
No, earthquakes will never be old hat to me. They're just one of the negative aspects of living in California that I have learned to deal with, and I just hope when the big one does hit, and half of the state falls into the sea, that I survive and get to move to Lex Springs or Otisburg.
Rain Jokinen was born and raised in San Francisco and, miraculously, still calls the city home. Her future plans include becoming a millionaire, buying a condo complex, and then tearing it down to replace it with a dive bar. You can ask this native San Franciscan your questions here.