The phone rang at about 1:50 p.m. Looking at the caller ID, I saw that it was the customary call from our newsroom studio signaling that it was time to head over for my MSNBC hit with Andrea Mitchell called “The Next 24” at about 1:55. Having already tied my tie, I donned my suit jacket and walked the 30 seconds it takes to get from my office to the chair.
Everything was normal. Jennifer had the two phones nestled on her ears when I rounded the corner. I hopped on the carpeted and glass-enclosed platform that is our studio and reached for my earpiece. In one fluid motion I jumped onto the padded stool and handed the earpiece to Jennifer. That’s when things got funky.
The entire platform started shaking. Softly, at first. Then more violently. The studio lights shook. All of the glass, slanted to prevent glare on camera and to provide a view of the newsroom for the folks at home, started wobbling. And it didn’t stop for what seemed like an eternity, but was probably more like 20 seconds. At first, the grinding sensation reminded me of the early morning earthquake that awakened me on July 16, 2010. But the intensifying shaking left me to wonder whether a truck had hit the Washington Post building.
And then it stopped.
The building was immediately evacuated. I could see a man through a window at the Orrick building next door throwing on his suit jacket as he moved quickly out of view. Jennifer told the folks at MSNBC that we weren’t going to make the date with Mitchell. As it turned it out, Mitchell and her crew dashed from their Nebraska Avenue studios. Tamron Hall, anchoring from Miami, picked up the coverage. Like many others at the paper, I stayed put, which earned me a tongue-lashing from a colleague. Well-deserved, I will admit.
From my office window, I could see people swarming the sidewalks. On Twitter, people from as far away as Cleveland and Raleigh let me know they felt the quake. Of course, it brought out the humor. JillEBond tweeted at me, “@CapehartJ Who is going to blame the gays first?” @jacknicorose pinged: “@CapehartJ how soon before tea party blames obama for eathquake?” And Ezra Klein hilariously tweeted: “The Ocean’s 13 team is presumably stealing something pretty valuable right now.” An earthquake was used a ruse to steal some money and jewels in that fun flick.
But one of my followers whom I hear from regularly, @Southerntalk, just tweeted something that is no doubt true: “@CapehartJ No Joke...will be one of those, ‘I remember where I was moments in time’.” The hashtag for this one would be #instantclassic.