Becoming Earthquake MacGyver
Last updated 11:37 10/03/2011
The absence of change, they say, is death. This certainly applies to languages and probably to companies and, more broadly, cultures. If change is a requisite of a thriving organism then, by golly, I've never felt so alive! And tired, but alive!
However, as I mentioned earlier this week, I am generally fearful and anxious about changes to my environment or situation. I like my warm, cosy familiar things. But the changes I've noticed in the last few days are not the changes to the things around me as much as the ways in which I am changing to accommodate them. There are a number of ways in which my own behaviour has changed markedly over the last couple of weeks.
For instance, I no longer see my beautiful strappy shoes as an asset but rather as a liability. Ever since the earthquake I have been living in sneakers. Once or twice I have felt adventurous enough to branch into sandals or ballet flats but despite their flatness, they don't quite feel sturdy enough. What if there's a large aftershock and I'm on the other side of town and have to walk several kilometres home? Will sandals protect my toes from falling masonry, or glass, or stay on over uneven terrain? (After all, we've got a lot of that now.) Probably not. Consequently my Adidas Superstars are getting a hammering and holding up very well, thank you. I honestly cannot imagine tottering about in high heels at the moment. I feel like even my most comfortable pair would "endanger" me.
I've also taken to performing amateur structural assessments on any and all buildings I enter. Do those walls look sound? Where are my means of egress? Where is the nearest solid thing I can duck and cover under?
Earlier in the week I made a visit to a mall and as I was wheeling my bike to the nearest stand, found myself calculating the height of the tall concrete wall I was walking right next to and estimating the distance I would have to run to get out of the way should it fall in an aftershock. I decided that two car lengths would probably be sufficient but if I were somehow unable to make it that far, crawling underneath a parked car might be a good option. I even shifted my backpack on to one shoulder so as to fit under if necessary.
And speaking of my backpack, no matter where I'm going my backpack has the following: bike lights, some kind of food item (sometimes a muesli bar, but often chocolate), boiled water, Swiss army knife, my passport, money, small transistor radio, torch and a small bottle of hand sanitiser. I am pretty much only a roll of duct tape away from being "Earthquake MacGyver", though I have yet to figure out how I'm going to use these items to escape from the compound of a Colombian drug lord and render his henchmen unconscious without causing them serious injury. But actually I'm sure once I have the duct tape the whole thing will just fall together like the daughter of a kidnapped diplomat and a science-geek-hero-for-hire exchanging yearning looks in the back of a runaway train carriage. Or something.
Another noticeable difference in my behaviour (because my references to 80s TV shows is nothing new) is that I'm not really interested in drinking. Actually, it's more that I'm not really interested in being drunk. Lord knows there are times of stress when I find myself wishing for a nice chilled glass of something alcoholic and sometimes I even indulge, but now I never have more than one or two. The idea of being impaired during an emergency just isn't an attractive one. I feel like I need to have my wits about me more than usual and given how little sleep we're all getting and how stress is definitely making me more forgetful and less able to reason, adding alcohol into the mix just seems like a bad idea. And I really like drinking. I really like drinking and high heel shoes and doing both of those together but now is definitely not the time.
And as far as my wardrobe is concerned it's jeans, it's T-shirts, it's a hoodie if it's a bit cold. It is not skirts. It is not "nice" clothes. I am essentially dressing like a boy. All the better for climbing over rubble/escaping from Colombian drug lords in, I say. So far the Silver Fox doesn't seem to mind but I'm sure he'd like to know when his "girly" girlfriend will be back.
So this is the way I react to what I perceive as "increased risk", with small practicalities that make me feel better but probably do very little to actually reduce risk to my person. How are you coping? Have you found you're less interested in drinking or wearing frivolous footwear? For those outside Christchurch, have you put your Civil Defence kit together? You really should. First, you'll need some duct tape...
There really isn't much that duct tape can't fix.