Today some friends and I took our kids (4 moms, 16 kids under the age of 10) to our local movie theater, where there are free movies every Tuesday all summer. The theater was jammed- there was not even one empty seat. Today’s movie was Fred Claus starring Vince Vaughan. We laughed throughout and enjoyed the chilly wintery scenes, which were effective in cooling us off on this hot July morning. Everything was just fine, until 11:42am, when the theater started to roll.
Yes, roll! We live in Southern California, where the earth moves regularly. My friend and I recognized immediately that we were experiencing an earthquake, but this was a first for my 9 and 10 year old kids. As the rolling turned to jolting and the movement got a little more intense, people gasped and stood up and started to go for the aisles. My friend Angela shouted out, “Remain calm! Don’t panic!” several times… who wants to get trampled, right??- and for the most part people were calm. My legs turned to jello and I was shaking because you can’t know if the quake will stop or gather strength. Having lived through 2 major earthquakes (with major aftershocks each time), I was a little jumpy.
Everyone exited the theater safely, with no trampling and lots of nervous laughter, and immediately got on their cell phones. I was able to get ahold of my husband right away but my friend, who’s mother lives just a few miles from the epicenter, could not get her mom on the phone. We heard later that the cell lines collapsed pretty quickly with the overload on the system from everyone trying to make calls all at once.
My kids have told and re-told their “survivor” story to friends and relatives several times now, and the earthquake gets bigger and bigger with each retelling, like a fish story (it was THIIIISSSS BIG!) It was a moderate quake, 5.4 on the Richter scale, but it was their first, so to them it was a whale!