Saturday, June 25, 2011

Flashback Friday

Yesterday morning (June 24th), there was a "small" quake of 3.5. My stomach contests the qualifier. In fact, my stomach, heart, blood pressure and brain categorically refuse to even acknowledge the Richter scale.

It was scary. It felt like someone had violently kicked my chair. Except they kicked the whole building.

I wanted to run. I grabbed my desk like a sprinter lines up on the starting block. Fortunately or unfortunately, I happened to be alone at the office with the only coworker who never seems to feel any strong emotion. I don't know if it's a high level of fortitude or some undiagnosed psycho-emotional disability, but he treated the whole thing like just another occurence. In fact, he seemed to take more pleasure in asking every single person he knew or met all day long if they felt it.

It's hard living with this stress. I know it's been over a year. I fooled myself into thinking I was getting over it. But I'm not. I'm as sick over it as I was in january of last year.

My boss called me on my phone shortly after but the call didn't go through. He came up about fifteen minutes after it happened and asked me why I hadn't evacuated the building like most of the employees. He wasn't here when the Goudougoudou happened so I could tell he was shaken and trying to hide it.

By then I was outside on the roof. Yes, that's the other reason I'm freaked out. My office was relocated to converted space literaly on top of a five-story building. You're not supposed to use elevators or stairs during a quake. How do I get down? I didn't even know people were outside. There is no alarm, there is no speaker system.

So I stayed on the roof for the better part of an hour with a couple of coworkers who had run up instead of down.

Nowhere to run is such a familiar feeling in this country, I should be used to it by now. Except I can't.

I also don't know how I'm going to survive all this stress. Kidnappings have started over again. After fifteen months of suspense, we still don't have a government, though we have a president. And now I have to deal with earthquakes again.

It's not that we have not accepted the fact that this island is on shaky ground. It's that NOTHING has changed between last January and today. Yes there are public service announcements about security measures and building construction safety.

Yet there is no Building Code and people are building all over the city. There is no Rescue Service that I know of. We still have the same set of hospitals plus health NGOs

At work, they told us last year that the three staircases were the exits to use in case of emergency.

Yeah, you read me right. I'm in a tall building and I have to use stairs to get out.

I don't know how we'll go on living like this. Whenever there's a noticeable quake, I want to run, I don't want to eat, I just wanna go home and stay there. In fact, today, I have to go out and I am scared of leaving the house. It's completely irrational but there it is.

Tragedy changes you. Permanently.