Suddenly the joyful activities stopped. The house started shaking vigorously, and there was a deep and loud sound, like the rumbling of a train driving through your ground floor. I had never felt so scared in my life before. Somebody shouted earthquake! I quickly turned my head towards the voice. A man sat on his knees in a corner, clinging to a chair. Nobody else reacted before the second part of the earthquake hit us. That’s when the panic spread in the room. People started screaming and shouting. I understood little of what they said, most of them screamed on Japanese. I tried to pick up some words. I heard garage, run and no time. Of course. The garage was built of solid concrete. We would be safe there. People started pushing through the tiny door opening, which lead to the stairway. I waited in the back. I didn’t want to hurt myself, trying to get through. I took a quick look over my shoulder before I followed the rest of the people down the stairs and into safety. This could be the last time I would ever see my office again.
It was a long way from 23th floor down to the garage. The earthquake was still going on. All I could do was to pray for the stairs not to collapse under my feet. We were now on the 10th floor. I thought about how we were going to survive in the garage. No water, no air, no love.
We reached the garage. The shouting and screaming had now turned into low whispering and talking. I was surprised of how calm and quiet everyone was. The only loud noise I could here was my boss. “Ok, people, calm down! I know it’s bad, but we can get through this! Just stay calm!” he shouted. It seemed like he tried to calm everybody down. But everyone had already found a place on the floor, and wasn’t really panicking anymore. I guess he just tried to stay calm himself. After awhile, my boss also stopped talking. It was quiet. I started thinking of my family, my Japanese wife and my two kids. Sometimes I wished I lived with them in the village. But I had to live here in Tokyo. I had to make money for them and myself. I wanted to call, but I couldn’t get any signals here.
I walked over to the other side of the room. Nothing was shaking anymore, but everyone was still lying on the floor like they were dead. Everyone except me and my boss. He looked really stressed. He’s eyes went from one side of the room to the other, and he took a deep breath every 5th second. “Are you sure you’re OK?” I asked him. “What? Me? Yes, of course...there is nothing to be afraid of. Just a little bit of shaking. No big deal” he said, very unconvincing.”Well, the shaking has actually stopped. I think it’s safe to go outside. You know, check if everything is OK in other buildings”. “Yes, of course. I was about to say that myself” he said. Again, very unconvincing.
He walked to the middle of the room, stepping on a couple of hand n the way. “Excuse me! It’s now safe to go outside!” he announced. Nobody moved. “I said, it’s safe to go outside!” he said again.
The reason nobody was reacting, was that everyone had fell asleep. Actually that was kind of smart, instead of stressing themselves, such as my boss did. “Uhm, I think we can go out ourselves. Let them sleep, they need it.” I said. “Fine, then let’s go then. No time to loos” my boss answered. I walked towards the gate, opened it, and my boss followed me outside.
When we got out, the traffic had already started to move again. I understand that it’s busy here in Tokyo, but it could be smart to put the safety of the people before making money. But for me it was a good thing that the busses were up and running. “What should we do now?” my boss asked me. “Well, I want to go visit my family” I said. “You can do anything you want to I guess, everything seems to be under control here”. “Fine, I’ll just go to a coffee shop or something then” he answered. I watched him walk careless down the street, before he disappeared behind a corner.
I sat down at the bench on the bus stop and waited. I thought about how quick this was over. It was like it never happened. People walked normally down the street and cars drove as they would normally do. The only difference was the silence. Normally I could hear the people talking and shouting over the cars. Now everyone walked with their head down. I guess they were still in shock.