Tuesday, August 23, 2011

5.9 on 8.23

I knew today was going to be an interesting day right after I'd finished my sugar cookie-and-diet coke breakfast.  Usually I have granola with yogurt and keep it at that, but today was special.  (Any day with free treats is special in my book).

I made it through a large portion of my morning to-do list and headed off to a lunch of leftover pot stickers and rice.  After my pot stickers, three sips into my seltzer water, and mid-way in chapter 7 of Cold Sassy Tree, I started to get motion sick.  This happens to me more often than I'd like to admit, and I thought it was just the large man that happened to be walking by me at the time.  I couldn't believe how hard he was walking.  And how much vertigo I was experiencing.

Then he walked away and the booming didn't stop.  Then the booming did stop and the swaying started.

Note to future self: when the walls of the office look like jello, don't spend 20 seconds looking around and above you to see what, if anything, could fall on you before hiding under your lunch table.   Just hide under your lunch table.  Even if it means your slip shows because you're wearing one-of-those dresses today.

Instead of hiding under the desk, I did what any other seasick-stricken person would do and became a lemming and followed the crowds outside.

Georgetown evacuated and shut down its buildings.

So we spent half an hour in the hot sun, vying for shade and listening to the people from California tell us what pansies we all are.  Then we got the good news (well, good for me) that those who already had their belongings could leave for the day.  Those who didn't have their necessities and/or who had a car parked in the underground garage, were not let back into the building and had to stick around to wait until it was declared safe to enter.

Because I'd been at lunch, I had my purse and quickly left to try to beat the masses to Union Station.

Well, I didn't beat the masses.  There was a seething 40-foot-deep wall of humanity surrounding Union Station when I got there.  The entrance to the station was closed and not one of the 50 or so police providing crowd control could tell us anything about the state of the metro.  Blake reported by phone that the metro was still open, though operating under "Emergency" protocol and not going above 15 mph.  Still, they didn't give any information about station closures etc.

So I waited there in the hot sun with 10,000 other sweaty Washingtonians and a street preacher who, carrying a large bible, screamed in my ear that the end is 'nigh and I need to repent.

After 15 minutes or so, I'd had quite enough of the "you're going to hell" business, so I walked back to Georgetown where I could at least sit in the shade with people I knew.

When I did finally make it on the metro an hour later, it was packed cheek-to-cheek and face to sweaty face.  You know what though?  People were fairly pleasant.  I am always impressed at how well people come together when disaster strikes.

A man who works facilities at the White House was standing near me giving some tourists a lengthy and wordy virtual tour of the White House: "so, when you walk in past the situation room and on the way to the oval office, you'll see two Andy Warhol paintings...and I've always thought that in the event of a natural disaster, I'd sneak in and steal those two...and oh, I carved my name in the ceiling next to the stained glass, but I won't tell you what my name is because I don't want to get in any trouble."  And, my personal favorite anecdote from the ride: "I was at an inaugural dinner and was seated next to Tom Selleck.  We were all drinking red wine and having a good time.  But ol' Tom, he tucked the whole table cloth into his shirt when he tucked in his napkin and when he stood up to give a toast, he brought the whole table cloth with him...red wine and all."

In between his verbose stories, two people next to me on the train collapsed from heat exhaustion and had to be dragged off the train and resuscitated.

Good times on the metro.  Good times.

I got home to my Blake just 45 minutes before I would have normally gotten home. It was a long, sweaty, foot-blistered afternoon and I've never been happier to be sitting safely on the couch resting my feet with my Blake.

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