It was a warm day in Mountain View, and I was just getting to my room at the Navy Inn at Moffett Field to change out of my uniform for dinner with some coworkers. Should I wear shorts? Hmmm. I closed the drapes, peeled off my uniform and hung it up, and sat on the edge of my hotel bed fiddling with the tube, flipping through channels seeing if there was some weather report somewhere. Found the SF Giants playoff game, but not much else, and decided against shorts.
Then the shaking started, me in my tidy whiteys, eeikes, the cabinets in the little kitchenette throwing all the Corningware to the tile floor, and the lights went out. Don't stand in the kitchen, duh, go inside to the closet and wait it out. Wow this is a big one and the shaking's going on and on and on and on. And then it stopped, and it's super-dark in the room and I trip over the TV cable cord between the wall and the TV, still bolted down to the top of the now toppled dresser drawers.
Uh, now what? Grope around for 501s and a shirt and shoes, couldn't find sox, black will do, where are my rental car keys and wallet? I feel around for those dark blue polyester trousers (eeek), find them. Make my way into the interior hallway of the cinderblock building, everyone starting at each other in the emergency lights, decide to head to the car and turn on the radio, mayye KGO or something has something.
Nope, static all around the AM dial. Another family at the Navy Inn wonders what to do? Is that gas I smell? I think dammit I'm hungry, there aren't any restaurants open, maybe I'll go stay with my co-worker buddy. The intercom to his condo doesn't work, so there goes that idea. But the 7-11 on Mary Ave is strangely open, so my dinner becomes Fig Newtons and a six pack of Coors; per diem should cover that. Radio stations have come back on. Some serious shit in Oakland, the Marina's on fire, what about the BART trains under the Bay? No one knows where the epicenter was.
Maybe I'll stay with my brother at his dorm! Yeah, that's it. Drive up El Camino, what a mess without traffic lights, it's now very dark. It takes about 90 minutes of dodging around collisions and flares, you can't even see the intersections with the streetlights and signals out. At San Antonio Road, there is power, people are lining up to get gas and get into Walgreens. Get to my brother's dorm, they have power, there's an odd crazy festive spirit in the air overlaid on deeper anxiety, and I see a few pictures of what was a very big day for the Bay Area, some 25 years ago.