My wife is a Cali kid. Like most Californians, she scoffed at the earthquake that shook the East Coast yesterday. Still, it was my first earthquake and I had some reflections long after the rumbling stopped.
First, I had never experienced one, so none of my “training” kicked in. I didn’t run for a door jam or dive under my desk. I just never did a drill other than an air raid drill (Cold War East coast kids know what I’m talking about). So, the initial experience was one of taking in something new.
The subsequent actions I took and, more importantly, the thoughts that bounced around, were interesting.
Here are the things I worried about and how I handled them. What is interesting to note is that as time went on I started to plan/ think about more remote low probability scenarios. After feeling the shakes, and then getting a grip on my surroundings, my focus was on mentally keeping myself engaged with being logical and sound.
Tsunami: So, my kids were at the beach with my Mom and Sister, and since I did not know the initial epicenter I was concerned with where the quake originated and getting them back. Once I found out they were well on their way home, my mind was at east. I was texting with my wife, so I knew she was safe.
Power Lines, Gas Leaks and Cracks in the foundation: I went immediately to Twitter and followed my feed and heeded the warnings about staying inside. I was on the phone with a customer, but cell lines started to conk out and we were forced to reschedule. So, after quick survey of my surroundings, I was able to feel comfortable with my house and my safety in it.
Aftershocks and Train derailment: I had a meeting in Manhattan and needed to take the train. My inner risk mitigation considered cancelling and re-scheduling. I didn’t want to let the earthquake win. My son was crying as I left saying he didn’t want me to go and the thought crossed my mind that somehow he has some sixth sense and I was getting on a train of doom. I thought about a derailed train and what I would do should the catastrophe ensue, but realized that I was going into a bad place needed to change azimuth. Crisis management is not healthy for me, so I moved onto other thoughts about my meeting.
Big City, Big Piles of Rubble: As I got off the train I again thought of the aftershocks and the problems that can happen. I saw flashes of a city wide 9/11 building collapse and how I would get the hell out of the city. But, again, those thoughts would not serve me any good and I flushed them from my mind.
So there you have it, the low probability taking its toll. Between travel and people and the thoughts, I was up pretty late trying to wind down. Still, I am pleased that I didn’t back away from my responsibilities, that I identified and took control of the harmful thoughts, and I did it all with style.