Yesterday's earthquake near Richmond, VA disrupted the lives of people up and down the east coast --especially surrounding Washington, D.C. Visitors to D.C. will notice how locals are like zombies on the streets or Metro. Most of us wear our ear buds connected to our i-Whatever or carry a book or magazine to read. For many Washingtonians these are subtle tools to keep people from talking to us.
When the earthquake struck yesterday, D.C. was shaken out of its routine. Offices and apartments were evacuated. Work and transportation were paused. People's busyness was interrupted. I visited with neighbors in the courtyard of our apartment complex. D was surrounded by people standing around the streets of D.C. Cell phone circuits were overwhelmed. Friends tweeted, texted, and facebooked updates.
For a few hours we were a community. The earthquake pulled us out of our day-to-day rut. Bars opened for impromptu happy hours. People watched local news stations as neighbors and reporters recounted their harried tales of where they were when the dcquake struck.
Every now and then something spectacular happens to remind us we are not automatons in the machinery of the world, but a community with common experiences and fears. It took an earthquake to get some people to take off their ear buds, look around their neighborhood, and talk to the person next to them. It migh be nice if more of us lived like there was an earthquake more often.