The Day The Earth Shook…and Shook

It was a lovely October day; no fog, fairly temperate; no “winter” coat needed in San Francisco for my 5:30 meeting with a potential speaking client. I was able to get in a full day in the office— booking speaking engagements, talking to clients and sending out a couple of Speaker contracts. Even more fun was that the San Francisco Giants were playing the Oakland Athletics in what was billed as “The Bay Bridge” series at 5:35 pm.

Because Golden Gate Bridge traffic is hard to predict, I left earlier than usual for my 5:30 appointment at a favorite restaurant on the top level of iconic Ghirardelli Square. It was so mild that I grabbed an outdoor table and just took in the beauty of the setting while waiting for my guest. WE planned to watch the game in the restaurant.

As I sat outside, I noticed that the sky had quickly darkened and the clouds looked ominous.For some reason, there was a ringing in my ears and I don’t have tinnitus. For some reason, which I can’t explain, I had a foreboding and got up and moved further way from the restaurant’s windows. It was as if I had an Early Inner Warning System! Thankfully, I listened to the warning.

Less than a minute after I moved, I heard a loud noise and the earth shook and shook. With the first shake the windows of the restaurant shattered. The table that I had been sitting at was covered in shards. Had I still been there, I also would have been covered with the unkindest cuts of shower of shards.

The earth shook again. It wasn’t long but there was extensive structural, visible and emotional damage due to the Loma Prieta Earthquake.

My out-of-town client arrived, literally “all shook up” (apologies to Elvis Presley). The game was cancelled and the city was dark…not a traffic light or street lamp worked. I very carefully drove him back to his hotel. The citizens rallied, volunteering at intersections as traffic crossing guards.

I made it back across the bridge and drove back into the city the next few days; volunteering to help the displaced in the Marina. Donations of food, necessities, water, clothing poured in. I still don’t understand who felt compelled to donate men’s patent leather opera shoes. But I have saved the can from the drinking water, donated by Annheuser-Bush, for 30 years.

On October 17th at 5:04pm is the 30th Anniversary of the day the Earth Shook and Shook; A day I’ll never forget.

The lesson I learned: LISTEN to my Inner Warning System.

About Susan RoAne

Susan RoAne leads a double life as a sought-after professional keynote speaker and a bestselling author. Known as The Mingling Maven®, she gives diverse audiences the required tools, techniques and strategies they need to connect and communicate in today’s global business world. The San Francisco Chronicle says she has a “dynamite sense of humor.” To hire Susan to speak for your company, association or college, 1.415.461.3915