Friday, August 26, 2011

Engineer to the Rescue!

This economy has really taken a toll on my industry.  I heard some statistic the other day that a huge percentage of architects (I forget how much, and frankly, I am not in the mood for....

...ok, ok, so I think the overall percentage of unemployment right now is 9.3, but percentage of unemployed architects is 9.8.  Apparently, this is hard to measure due to people entering/leaving said occupation, but my point is, that its rough out there.  Architects aren't designing things, and sadly, engineers work for architects, so where does that leave us?

Well, that has temporarily changed.  The other day, I was sitting at my desk, minding my own business and working (for lack of actual work) on a proposal to get work.  Then, some ginormous dude and two of his dinosaur friends started walking down the aisle between cubes.  And then the landscaping guys outside hit the building with a tank-sized lawn mower, and the building was swaying back and forth for like three seconds before I realized this was an earthquake.

Suddenly, structural engineers are like superstars.  Only, they are extremely nervous superstars as they realize that all the hundreds of buildings they've designed over the last ten years have just been tested.  The drywall right next to my window was audibly cracking and I was not sure if I should run outside.  But, then it stopped.

I was on the USGS website even before the event was recorded, and hit refresh until a little red box popped up in Virginia.  Shortly after, I got an email from a project contractor, building a structure just 45 miles or so from the epicenter.  The email was flagged with a little red exclamation point meaning "high importance," and says one word:  "Earthquake".  Shit, man.  Like...shit.  What if something happened?  Did my building fail?  Then I thought about how that particular building was designed to withstand a LOT more than an earthquake, and it seemed really unlikely.

I called the guy and got a busy signal.  Not good.

So, I play it cool, and email back: "You were a lot closer to the epicenter than we were, any issues?"   That's cool right?  Not like what's in my brain, which is more along the lines of "OH MY GOD I HOPE YOU"RE NOT DEAD and ifyouareIhopeitsnotmyfault."  A minute later, he called me.  "I just wanted you to know that everything's fine."

Seriously, I was so relieved he wasn't dead that I wanted to kill him.  "Don't you EVER high importance your email on me without an explanation!!"  I nearly shouted.

About 10 minutes after that, I got a call from the owner on another job.  He had someone walk the building, and its all good.  But he wanted me to go there (3 hour drive) and let the 500 people standing outside back in.  You know, cause I'm a superstar.  Oh, and I fly faster than the speed of light and therefore will have no problem getting around Washington DC right after a natural disaster.  Oh, and also, I can apparently fight fires because the fire alarm was pulled and the fire department hadn't shown up. 

"Is there a fire?" I asked. 
"I don't think so," he says, "I think someone pulled the alarm." 
"But how do we, um, know that it wasn't pulled for a fire?"

So, after I convinced him that he should maybe wait for the fire department, I told him someone would be out tomorrow to check for damage. 

Today, I went to three schools, tomorrow a parking garage, and probably another garage next week.  So far, I haven't found much to be concerned about, and thank goodness, all my buildings are still standing.  But I'm up to my eyeballs in reports to write.  (Which is why I am blogging, thank you very much.  I'll write them....later.)

Hurricane, you say?  Pfft.  No sweat.


Cyndi said...

Between Thursday and Friday I visited 20 schools. So many reports to write now!!! All but 1 were fine - cosmetic stuff only. But it sure has been good for business! :-)

kt said...

Hasn't it been a weird year for natural phenoms.

While living in California years I experienced 3 earthquakes. Most of the epicenters were far enough away to just shake me up a little. Now I live in tornado country (so far so good)......kt