On October 17, 1989 the San Francisco Bay area buzzes with excitement about baseball. The Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants, both local teams, are scheduled to play in the World Series at 5:30 PM. at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park.
South of San Francisco in Redwood City, I don’t focus on baseball because I am absorbed in my work as a CPA at an accounting firm. Dressed in my beige business suit and beige pumps which match the beige walls of my office, I scrutinize the numbers of the spreadsheet, calculating the personal and community property of one of my marital dissolution clients.
I glance out my office window and view a cloudless, blue sky and palm trees standing like guards in the late afternoon sun. A few minutes past 5 PM and without warning, the one-story brick office building begins moving both horizontally and vertically, like shaking up a Cracker Jack box. Someone shouts “earthquake.” Colleagues seek refuge under door frames or huddle under desks. Joining them, I brace myself under the door frame. There is no conversation just a fearful anticipation. Ceiling tiles pop, and dust streams down. A chemical smell emanates from a nearby copier and stings my eyes. I hear sounds of file cabinets flying open, books falling off shelves, pictures bouncing off walls, glass shattering and chairs moving. Then everything goes silent.
I later discover that at 5:04 PM a 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck the San Francisco Bay area and the tremor which felt like 15 minutes lasted a mere 15 seconds. There were more than 10,000 aftershocks over the next few weeks. What I didn’t realize is that the earthquake would be a precursor of shaky times ahead for my career and my health.