The explosion made me jump.
Stay calm, I thought as the building shook. It stopped shaking after 15 seconds or so; I didn’t.
Great. 5th anniversary of 9/11 (which happpened on 12 September here) and we in little old New Zealand have an “event”.
Peering out my office window, I saw people from other units in our office park come out on their balconies or into the carpark, looking around at first, then up to see if any bits of plane were about to rain down upon them.
Because, to be honest, that sound was what I’d imagine a plane exploding to sound like.
Scenerios ran through my head. Send students home or keep them at school? I walked out my office and out towards the other offices. Gather students in one area or keep running classes like normal? And Don comes out of his office.
“An earthquake, we just had an earthquake, did you feel that?” With the run-on sentence he clutches the nearest student, who also has a look of fear spread across her face.
“It wasn’t an earthquake,” I said. “Sounded more like an explosion.”
“Earthquake,” another student said.
“Too short for an earthquake,” I responded with authority (as if I had been dealing with earthquakes all my life).
Thank God Noel came out of his office (trying not to laugh at Don flapping around like a duck on heat) and agreed. He told us how he heard a crack, then an explosion, followed by the shaking: a shaking so severe it rattled his ceiling tiles (and a shockwave so intense it blew all the old leaves, seeds, et cetera on the school roof onto the balcony). “I’ll turn on the radio. There might be some news on there.”
Heading back to a window and peering out, I found most of units 8 and 9 outside still looking around. No plumes of smoke. No plane parts. No smoldering ruins of buildings. All good signs. Maybe.
Kevin (Kim’s husband) called. Windows at their house in Aranui rattled severely. His theory? Terrorists detonated a nuclear bomb in Australia and that was what the explosion was (never mind Australia is a 3 hour flight from pretty much anywhere in New Zealand).
Someone else said it was a terrorist attack downtown Christchurch. I scoffed. “Christchurch? What makes Christchurch a primary terrorist target?”
“Well, they say it’s easy for terrorists to get into New Zealand, those terrorists have set off a bomb downtown, that must’ve been the explosion” Don replied. (Who the fudgeciles are “they”?!?)
I gave him one of my special looks. “Christchurch. Why Christchurch? Why not Sydney or Melbourne or Brisbane or anywhere bigger than Christchurch?”
I got my point across; he didn’t say anything else.
Most of the students were gathered near the offices by now, waiting for news on what happened. One student got a text to say it was a sonic boom (which was strange because all the sonic booms I’ve encountered have “cracked”).
The phone rang. Security company: “Sorry to be so late in calling you, but we’re overloaded. Your home alarm is going off. Whatever that explosion was, it’s set off alarms all over the region, and reports of broken windows are coming in too.”
The radio finally clicked over to news: the theory? Space junk or a meteorite screamed over Canterbury and exploded just north of Christchurch, sending debris all over the place.
And it ended up right. It was something from space that just happened to streak through our skies. (Current theory: space junk. They found a pretty weird looking something smoldering in a field and it doesn’t look like a rock to many people!)
I was going to go on a tirade about terrorism — how we are still afraid of it (even though we have more chance of being killed crossing the street), how some elements are fighting an unwinnable war without addressing the root causes of terrorism (foreign policy sometimes maybe? playing in someone else’s sandbox instead of your own?), how elements of 9/11 still don’t stack up (although it is a very tragic event in American history), how some of us still jump when a bang goes off or when a piece of space junk explodes north of your city — but I don’t want to get too preachy with this thing (the stubborn German male that I am ha ha).
Oh, and there is that part about… will whoever is responsible for half that out-of-service crap orbiting the globe PLEASE clean them up? Before they cause an environmental disaster or kill someone?
End rant 🙂