I’m not quite sure when I’ll have time to post this, I’m writing on the train. Well, you’ve probably heard about the earthquake that shook the east coast. That was the big event of the day for me, so I guess I’m not going to write much about my walk. To the right is the best of the pictures I took, when I thought it was just going to be an ordinary day in the District. I was having lunch at Union Station when the quake hit. At first, it just felt like someone was playing some rap with the bass way up. Then it felt like someone had jostled my chair. Then I saw people running and stuff falling from the ceiling and my legs did my thinking for me after that.
What I want to write about has more to do with my faith in humanity than anything else. You frequently hear about the aftermath of catastrophic events, with panic and lootings and gouging. Luckily, this wasn’t a catastrophic event, but it’s the closest I’ve ever been to one, and at the time, with Union Station heaving, nobody had any way of knowing it wasn’t a catastrophic event. I am quite pleased to report that even in spite of a lack of well-coordinated evacuation efforts, everybody left in an orderly manner, quickly but without any aggressive jockeying for position.
Once outside the station, everyone waited patiently. Phone service crashed from networks overloading, but those lucky few who could get through were keeping everyone around them informed. A few hawkers came by selling bottles of water to those waiting outside in the sun. The price? One dollar—exactly what they were selling ’em for outside Nationals Park the night before. There were a few false alarms where some misinformed person would get a large number of the waiting crowd thinking the station had re-opened, but when the police told them to keep clear, everyone did without complaint. I’ve heard of riots and mass tramplings starting over less than this, but Washington (at least the small part of Washington I saw) kept its collective cool, and that really rocks.