Every time I’ve visited my best friend in California, I always begged for one thing to happen — an earthquake. She always said I was crazy for wanting one to happen (just a little one), but I just want to know what it’s like. The one time there was an earthquake while I was in California was while I was on the BART heading out of San Francisco. I felt nothing.
That changed on Tuesday when the east coast was rattled by a 5.9-magnitude earthquake centered in Virginia. It was felt from New York to Washington, D.C. I was sitting at work on my lunch break when my chair started shaking. I thought it was a truck or the chair was just wobbly. But the desk started shaking hard. And my coworkers on a conference call with Staten Island said they were feeling the shaking there too. It was an earthquake, something we never feel here in the New York area.
Like so many other times with big news, it took us a moment to observe and take in the news. On Sept. 11, 2011, I slept through the attack. And when I got out of bed and turned on the television, I stood and watched for a good while before I said, “Oh, I need to go to work. NOW!” When the power went out in 2003 for the blackout, the newsroom gathered around the television (powered by a generator) to see what happened. Only when an editor said “Hey, aren’t you reporters? Shouldn’t you be out reporting?” We all broke from the television and ran off to cover the story (I ended up stumbling on our front-page centerpiece — train riders stranded in Westport). On Tuesday after we came back in from the brief evacuation, we all jumped into breaking news mode. As it should be.
I think like anyone else, we want to watch the news unfold in front of us. We’re just as much news consumers as anyone else.
The funny part for me being in this business, though, is how my family reacts to the big news. On Sept. 11, during the blackout and after the earthquake, I didn’t get one phone call or anything from my mother, the queen worrier. But if three snow flakes fell, she would be on the phone quicker than you could say blizzard. And she would keep calling during the snow storm too.