It started on Tuesday afternoon. I work for a legal and regulatory publisher, almost the only independent one left of any size. It's based in Arlington, VA now; after many decades in DC we moved a few years ago and bought an 11-story building right near National Airport and not far from the Pentagon. I usually work on the sixth floor, but I was in a large meeting/presentation in the ground floor conference center when the floor shook. We thought it was a large truck going past, especially because it stopped after a few seconds. And then the shaking started again, much stronger this time, and it lasted for several seconds. All conversation ceased and we made a simultaneous decision to leave the building.
In some ways I was lucky because I didn't have to climb down six flights of stairs, but I also didn't have any way to bring my purse outside with me. I had no phone— not that they worked very well when everyone in the area was using them at once. Most of the area emptied into the street. After about two hours they let us back in the building long enough to retrieve our belongings, but, because of the cracks in the building walls, especially the stairwells, they didn't want people staying until an engineer could check the building. Luckily, the Metro was still running, albeit with the trains only going 15 miles an hour. And they let us get our cars from the basement garage. It would have been a long walk home otherwise. We were able to publish our issues that day, mostly because folks went home and worked from there.
That was Tuesday. Thursday morning everyone in the company got an email that our 100% employee-owned company was being sold. In many ways, that rocked people more than the earthquake. We're still kind of shell shocked. It's a very good deal as far as the stock price, but the future is now very uncertain. There are lots of people at my company who have never worked anywhere else. To say we are anxious in an understatement.
And of course, the weather reports were all full of satellite views of Hurricane Irene barreling down on the East Coast. I live far enough west and north of DC that damage was restricted to a tree limb coming down in the backyard; other folks from work were left without power. Some places had windows smashed and there were a few deaths from Irene, but she won't go down as a major hurricane. In the long run, the buyout will undoubtedly have the most long term impact on me. Here's hoping it's not a bad one.