Last week I had the chance to experience a modest earthquake (4.2), which was something I’d been looking forward to since I moved out to California—looking forward to with a profound fear. For while earthquakes are often delightful opportunities to enjoy a fleeting earthly rumble, they can also be city-destroying leviathans. This volatile dichotomy would be analogous to if volcanoes on rare occasions spewed scorching hot lava, but usually they just erupted with chocolate milk.
Living in a geologic fault zone is like living inside a piñata. Sometimes you’re hit with a whack from some milquetoast four-eyes, but every once in a while an overgrown future left tackle comes along, and he’s secretly peeking out from his blindfold. A strike from this small child is what I fear more than anything else in the world.
The problem is that you never know which kind of earthquake you’re in for. Sometimes a bus will pass by my apartment, lightly shaking the floor, and I’ll immediately run outside in hysterics yelling, “This is the big one!” without even pausing to put on my clothing.
Here is a handy guide to enjoying/suffering the awesome/horrific thrill-ride/disaster known as the earthquake, based on the Richter magnitude scale:
2.0-2.9: Say, was that an earthquake, or did an infant just crawl passed the apartment?
3.0-3.9: Oh great, my neighbor is blasting Nas again. Oh wait, no, earthquake! Oh wait, but my neighbor is also blasting Nas.
4.0-4.9: Awesome! Earthquake! Rock and roll! Fuck yeah! Oh no, my fine china.
5.0-5.9: Ha ha … OK, that’s pretty impressive, earth. Ha ha, good one. You’re right, I should replace that window. Ha ha. Oh, thanks, I’ve been meaning to rearrange my display shelf. You fucking asshole.
6.0-6.9: Fuck this, man, this is not cool! That does it, I’m moving to Vermont.
7.0+: What a horrific tragedy. Have fun rebuilding your life, if you manage to survive this ungodly nightmare. The most terrifying aspect of powerful earthquakes is that they can directly trigger accomplice disasters such as landslides, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and fires. If I’m ever involved in something likes this I know it would be a long overdue punishment for how I tortured those poor citizens of SimCity 2000.