Jam Aisle

Ann Marie Lawson

That day was really warm, still. The light was the perfect golden haze that happens in SF in fall. I lived in Oakland and worked in SF but I had that day off. I had driven into the city to buy myself a birthday present, a pair of cowboy boots from this place over on Valencia. After I went out to the Sunset to meet a friend who lived out there. We walked out to Ocean Beach to lay in the sun and read books.

I had a big debate with myself on whether to stay in the city and enjoy the weather or head back to the east bay and beat the traffic from the ballgame. I decided to be sensible and headed home. I lived about 5 minutes off of the Bay Bridge in Oakland and I got home at 4:50 PM.

I had had just enough time to get in the door and turn on MTV when the quake hit. I got in a door way and watched the room sway. I keep saying “That’s enough, that’s enough.” It kept going. The electricity went out and a few things fell over, but not much because of the cheap paint that the shelves were painted with acted like museum wax.

When it was over I panicked: got a battery operated radio, turned it on and stepped outside. I thought there would be people running round, panicked and freaking out, but nothing. everything looked normal. I thought I was have some sort of freak out, that I had imagined the quake.

There was nothing on the radio for several minutes. I tried the phone. No dial tone. It was an old rotary phone and I pushed the “hang up” button until I got a dial tone. I called my family on the peninsula. Everyone was shaken but ok. I worked the phone again and got my brother at his auto repair . Thank God none of the cars came off the lifts. I worked the phone again and got my other brother who basically lived at the epicenter all OK. That made me feel a bit better.

Finally the reports started to come in. About the bridge, the fires, the freeway collapse. I walked over to the grocery store where my boyfriend worked and it finally looked like something had happened. All the merchandise was on the ground. I helped them clean up the jam aisle which was a sticky mess.