Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Just an Earthquake

Andrew and I were in the gift shop at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, when suddenly the glass trinkets and jewelry began to dance. Unlike many Washington-area residents, who automatically thought "terrorist attack" when the building started shaking, my first thought was "earthquake."  It was only a few seconds later that I began thinking that maybe a plane had flown into the Aquarium's glass-pyramid top or that the building had been rammed by a ship.  Whatever. The staff told everyone go outside immediately. The quake was certainly a conversation-changer between Andrew and me about buying a $35 amphibious shark  that goes "anywhere you want, on land or in water." 

Once outside, we passed a cluster of Aquarium employees, probably from food service. Some of the women were crying. I said, "Don't worry. It was just an earthquake."

"Just an earthquake?!" laughed one.

"Well, yes, " I said, "It could have been a plane."

One of the women continued to sob. "Don't worry," I said, "We're going to be OK."

This morning I realized that perhaps she was crying because she thought her job was in danger. The  glassy Aquarium looks like the world's most fragile building. For all she knew, the Aquarium might have to close for weeks or months.  Everyone was kept out of the building for 45 minutes while it was checked for structural damage.

The building appeared sound, so we were let back in. Some interior glass shattered in the "Australia" exhibit of the Glass Pavilion, so that exhibit was closed. Andrew pressed the staff person at the cordoned-off escalator about the safety of the fruit bats in the exhibit. The man assured Andrew that they were probably all right, but I could see that the question made him uncomfortable. He quickly changed the subject. "I was talking to the people down at the dolphin tank, and they told me that the sharks began swimming around like crazy just before the quake hit." 


KathyA said...

It was very scary for a few minutes as stuff began falling off the shelves in my office!

The animals at the National Zoo seem to re-act/act before the quake as the sharks did. Amazing, isn't it?

Lena said...

I love how you put it into perspective even if that woman who was crying didn't catch it.

An amazing story to tell. Glad you and Andrew got to finish your visit to the Aquarium.

Debra said...

I'm afraid my first thought would have been a terrorist attack as well. I'm so glad you all are OK. Now, if "Irene" will just blow out to sea...