Mission Dolores

Delfina Piretti

I was working as a mental health treatment specialist in the Martinez Jail. I lived in SF. I had an intuition I should leave early to beat the Giants game traffic. My coworkers argued that my logic was crazy but I pushed and got out of there, over the bridge, picked up my 5-year-old daughter from Children’s Day School on Dolores and 16th.

We were in front of Mission Dolores, in the car, when the earthquake hit. Traffic stopped. My daughter started laughing. I think she thought it was some kind of amusement park ride trick i was doing with the car (?)The woman in the car next to me turned to me and exclaimed: “What are we supposed to do now, just drive on!!!!!!” She was hysterical.

The church steeple was swaying and the telephone lines looked like swinging jump ropes.

I tend to respond well in crisis and I think I adapted well enough to stay present for Haley and get us home. It was shocking. I can’t describe the relief I felt that I listened to my intuition to leave work early or I would have been stuck in the east bay or even possibly on the bridge.

We headed home, passing by Duboce Park when we just happened to pass by my friend Dana who was also driving. At that moment I remembered Dana and I had made an “earthquake plan” like they tell you to do in the earthquake prep instructions: Make a plan where you will meet family and friends. My plan was that I wanted to be with my daughter and would meet my husband and friends in Duboce Park. My plan was realized be it by intuition or good luck!

We went home and Haley burst into tears when she found her room in disarray. My neighbor was hysterical- frantic, looking for her keys- God only knows why. A kind man came by to help us turn the gas off.

We had the radio on and the mayor was saying something reassuring like: “Don’t worry- we’ve got things under control-” but before he finished his sentence, the connection cut out.

People came together in a way I’ve never seen before. Earthquakes are great equalizers. People were more compassionate and we helped each other out. It didn’t matter if we were strangers.