My second year in university I was able to move out of the dorms and into an apartment. Originally, Kat was going to live with us, so Anna and I signed leases for a three bedroom apartment off campus. But then things happened and Kat had to stay in the dorms, so Anna and I found a third roommate, a girl Anna had a lab with and who seemed normal at the time. That’s a story for another day.
The apartment itself was nice. Three bedrooms, three bathrooms, washer and dryer in the unit, and a shuttle to campus that usually worked. We checked it out a few times, and everything was fine.
And then we moved in.
We were both super excited, and on move in day got out keys and dragged our loads of stuff up three flights of very steep stairs. Our parents left, Anna’s to go home and my mom to go to my godmother’s house for the night, and we commenced our wild unpacking.
Suddenly everything started shaking. Anna and I looked at each other over boxes and bins, and groaned as we heard a train whistle come through the open balcony door. We hoped (in vain) that this was a rare occurrence, or that the trains only came through in the morning.
Fortunately, the trains were on a predictable schedule. Unfortunately, 2am was one of those scheduled times. I don’t know if it’s a normal train thing or the conductors in Oklahoma are especially sadistic, but we soon were aware of a long and wailing train whistle as it passed the student apartments every night. There was also a senior living community down the street, but I suppose after they took their hearing aids out they wouldn’t have much of a problem with the train whistles.
Aside from the train, there was a variety of things that would shake our little apartment. They boys across the hall, mostly. There were three of them, and they went up and down the stairs like a small herd of elephants. They set their fire alarm off almost every night, to the point where Anna and I would sneak takeout menus under their door and hope they took a hint. They didn’t.
Now, I’m not sure how common this next nugget of knowledge is, but Oklahoma is on a fault line. And along fault lines, it is common to get earthquakes. One night, as we were in our rooms, at our desks, I felt a small vibration, and thought nothing of it since it was around the time a train would go by anyway.
But then the shaking didn’t stop.
Either the boys across the hall were having a stair running contest at 10pm or it was an…earthquake.
The shrieks of the sorority girls crossing the parking lot ruled out the stair theory, so Anna and I did the last thing you should do during an earthquake: we ran down the stairs.
Guys, being outside, on seemingly solid ground, and feeling it shake under you is really bizarre.
It subsided in a few minutes, and we walked back upstairs. By the time we were settled back with our books, we got a text from the university’s emergency system telling us that there had in fact been an earthquake. Thanks, guys.
But yeah, that’s the story of the time we realized that the boys across the hall could shake the building just as must as a small earthquake.