Today was earthquake in Washington, D.C.
In the early afternoon while sitting at my desk, the floor started slightly rumbling. I assumed someone was moving furniture or someone was transporting a heavy cart down the aisle but after 15 seconds of rumbling, things really started shaking.
My colleague, who sits across the aisle from me, came running out in a panic and started riling the floor about a bomb or an attack. I suppose by the fact of working in the nation's capital and continuous cycle of fear propagated by politicians and the media that this is one of the first thoughts people have. Grabbing my phone and wallet, I headed out floor and down the stairs joined by the rest of the building filing out.
While walking down the stairs, I figured it had to be an earthquake since I don't work at the main headquarters building and the only other agencies with me are State and FEMA. Well, maybe some Louisianians might harbor a grudge against FEMA.
Outside the building, workers from all the surrounding building were gathering outside in firedrill fashion with tourists out in the Mall standing about. After about half and hour of waiting, security began allowing people into the building and our Director came around and gave the OK for an early dismissal due to phones and internet connections being out throughout the building.
The Metro was probably the most crowded I've ever seen it heading out to Virginia. I think even more crowded than Fourth of July. It seemed pretty much all of DC was vacating the city. The best comment I heard during that day on the subway was "I'm going to now have to tell my wife about you", from one stranger to another, on that intimate commute.
Another interesting experience on the subway home was the amount of pushing and self-interest people exhibited to attempt to squeeze themselves onto the crowded train. Rather than just wait the few minutes for the next train to come along (typically every 3-5 minutes but today, extended to around every 15 minutes due to trains only running at 15 mph), people would push and shove to fight their way onboard. Occasionally during rush hour, this occurs to some degree but not to the extent I saw today. People at the train doors would push/repel others as the train would stop to prevent anyone from attempt to board.
Makes you think about the comparison of what actions people will take here in America for 10-15 minutes of their time relative to other places in the world, where people must take extreme measures to ensure they might obtain humanitarian relief for their families to keep from starving or to escape war and conflict.