Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Jersey City Earthquakes (and Other Events Worth Ignoring)

Okay, so this blog post title may be a bit misleading; the earthquake actually happened in Virginia. However, I experienced it in Jersey City! Yet, at the time, I didn't even realize what was happening. Let me explain.

My sister A___ and I were sitting on the futon in my living room, watching the movie Precious. It was about an hour-and-a-half before we had to leave to get her to her bus stop in order to return to Pittsburgh, and both of us were a little antsy. Partway through the movie, I noticed that the futon was bouncing up and down. At first I ignored it, assuming A____ was vigorously scratching a bug bite or something. However, when the bouncing persisted, I started to get annoyed. What is she doing? I thought to myself. God, just sit still. After a moment more, I finally said something.

"What are you doing?"

"What?" She looked up at me.

"Could you please quit bouncing, or whatever it is you're doing?"

"I'm not doing anything!"

"Well the futon's bouncing around, so...."

"I thought that was you!"

I gave her a deadpan look.

"I'm sitting still."

"I thought you were bouncing your leg or something."

"No, I'm sitting still."

We both sat there for a minute, looking at each other.

"Oh," she finally said.

A moment later, the futon stopped bouncing, and we went back to watching the movie, unperturbed.

About an hour later, as we were leaving for the bus stop, A___'s phone buzzed.

"It's D___," she said, pressing the mute button. "I'll call him back later."

We entered the PATH station (New Jersey's equivalent to the NYC subway), and when we emerged half an hour later, her phone was buzzing again.

"God, he's called me seven times now," A___ said in annoyance.

"Then you'd better pick up," I replied. "It might be important."

"He's probably just calling me for something stupid," she said as she held the phone up to her ear. "Like how horny he is or something. Seriously, I bet that's it. Hi honey, what's up? The what? Yeah I'm fine. Did I what? Earthquake? What earthquake?"

"Oh my god, that's what it was!" I exclaimed, poking her in the shoulder as we maneuvered down the sidewalk, past gawking tourists and irritable commuters. That's what had happened when we were watching the movie!

The moral of this story might be that boyfriends worry more about their girlfriends' safety than said girlfriends' parents. Or it might be that technology has given us quicker, easier access to loved ones and consequential peace-of-mind...or that it tells us us too much about the world too quickly and therefore causes undue worry. But I think the true lesson here is that humans will ignore and rationalize away everything they can until it interferes directly with their life. Seriously: an earthquake occurred, and rather than recognizing what was happening at that futon-shaking moment, I chalked it up to my little sister being her usual annoying self. However, if the plaster from the ceiling had started falling on our least then I might have admitted that maybe, just maybe, A___ actually wasn't the one shaking that futon.

No comments: