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Posted at 05:35 PM ET, 08/23/2011

D.C. earthquake: What did you think it was?

Pennsylvania Avenue NW, looking east about 15 minutes after Tuesday afternoon’s earthquake. (Mike DeBonis - The Washington Post)
We’re not “earthquake people” ’round these parts. Things start shaking, and earthquake is not necessarily the first thing we’re going to be thinking of.

Here was my thought process at 1:51 p.m., experienced at a downtown tavern with half a club sandwich in my mouth: Whoa, is this an earthquake? No, we’re in D.C., this can’t be an earthquake. Oh, god, it’s a bomb. I’m two blocks from the White House. Definitely a bomb. Wait, no, the building still has windows — not a bomb. Is there a really big truck driving by? No truck is that big. Wait, it’s been shaking for a good five seconds now. This is an earthquake. Whoa.

Some other reactions gathered by myself and Post colleagues:

— “The house began to rumble, like when you hear a large truck rolling by.”

— “At first I thought it was people running through the building. Like a bunch of adults running down the hall.”

— “We thought someone was banging on the cubicle beside us.”

— “I thought someone was rolling something heavy in the building.”

— Person working out thought she “threw the barbell down too hard.”

But over and over again, my colleagues and I heard people say they thought it was bomb or some other sort of explosion. Behold the post-9/11 collective psyche.

So what were you thinking? Tweet to the #quakereaction hashtag and I’ll update here.


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By  |  05:35 PM ET, 08/23/2011

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