I took over an empty conference room on the 29th floor where I was able to dial into all my meetings. Things were going fine, until around 11:40. All of a sudden I started to feel a bit of a wobble, with the whole room gently shaking. To be completely honest, I initially thought it might have been a rather large set man I saw earlier walking by room on the way to lunch.
The initial shaking subsided, the whole room started swaying gently side to side lasting close to 30 seconds. It was a truly surreal experience. I was in the middle of a meeting with my camera on and important things were being discussed. I thought about notifying the team but felt like I would come across as overdramatic.
I sat there frozen for a few seconds. I briefly thought about googling “What to do while in the middle of a skyscraper in the middle of an earthquake” but decided against it. I figured no matter what the answer was it wouldn’t be really helpful at that point.
After what felt like an eternity the room stood still. The meeting was still going on as if nothing happened and I was still sitting in the same spot. I pretended like everything was fine, we wrapped up, and I sat in my chair wondering why my former colleague picked this day of all days to meet up.
I later learned that what I experienced was a 5.1 level earthquake which originated just east of San Jose. I also learned that skyscrapers are some of the safest places to be during an earthquake. The building swaying that I encountered is actually a safety feature, and ensures that the building doesn’t snap in half when experiencing a tremble.
I now know that the best thing to do during an earthquake while in a highrise is to do the standard duck and cover under a sturdy desk.
Upon further digging I stumbled on what many people who live in the Bay Area already knew. The Bay Area has three different faults running through it, the Hayward Fault, the Calaveras Fault, and the San Andreas Fault.
Most people in the Bay Area live less than 10 miles from one of these faults that can have a damaging earthquake, such as the San Andreas on the Peninsula and the Hayward fault through the East Bay.
Earthquakes are one of those existential fears that crop up every once in a while, only to recede very quickly. There is a heart pounding thrill and panic of being in the middle of one, not knowing if this is the big 6.7 magnitude quake that has been predicted for decades. However, after one resides, life goes on as normal.
To me earthquakes are a reminder that you can’t worry about every single disaster that exists in the world. There are certain things in your life you can control, and nature is unfortunately not one of them.