The fight or flight instinct that humans have in times of emergency is truly amazing.
At 11:39 this morning, I found myself lying on a cot at the physical therapists, playing solitaire on my iPod, with tiny electric shocks pulsating into my knee. Then it started shaking. I thought I was imagining things. Then everyone started freaking out as it got stronger. So I hopped off my bed, knee still pulsating, and went to stand with a nurse by the column of the building. The quake passed, and I returned to my cot. Fifteen minutes later, the physical therapist put some 6 pound weights on my ankles so I could do my exercises.
“Now you really can’t escape!” She joked. I laughed nervously.
Literally five minutes later, it started shaking again. Faster than you can say boo, I ripped those ankle weights off my legs and headed for the column. All I wanted was to be out of those weights and able to move to safety.
And a few minutes after that, right after I had gotten the ankle weights on, it started shaking AGAIN. Seriously, earth. Stop moving NOW! I was thinking.
After the first quake, a few people had left, notably some older women who were really scared. After the second and third aftershocks, all the patients left except for me and one other guy. As soon as the physical therapist had given me all my instructions, she left too.
That made me kind of nervous, so I finished quickly and left.
Of course I had to go down 10 flights of stairs, probably totally negating all of the work I had just done on my knee.
Although this human urge we have to flee from danger is strong, it’s actually better not to try to escape during an earthquake. It’s best to stand in a doorway, or near a strong support, like a pillar. I’ve also heard that it’s good to lie next to a large piece of stable furniture, like a bed, as long as you aren’t in the way of something falling on you.
It’s hard to think rationally, though, and I understand that if you’re high up in a building you want to get out as soon as possible. However, it really surprised me how especially the old women wanted to leave while the building was still shaking.
Anyway, it was an exciting morning.
In other news, Chile now has a new president. Kind of ominous that half an hour before he took the oath there was the strongest aftershock yet…I wonder if that’s a sign?