More Earthquake Stories, Part III
We exhibited at the show and were in the exhibit hall when the quake hit. It was interesting to see the differing reactions from everyone there as it hit. At our booth, we had someone drop their coffee in the middle of a discussion and another person calmly grab a cell phone and make a call.
Once we were all outside and one of the reps from the DMA grabbed a bullhorn to gather everyone around and let us know the situation, our only regret was that we weren't able to commandeer the bullhorn and let everyone know that "This quake was brought to you by Totale-mail.com." It was a DMA convention after all.
David Harrison, senior vice president of advertising,Totale-mail.com
Ruined Latte and No Sales
I was happy enjoying a hot latte in a local Starbuck's when the earthquake struck. Being a Los Angelino, earthquakes are nothing new to me. At the first signs of rumbling, I looked for the nearest doorway to crawl under. But, the ground moved before me and so did the hot latte. It spilled all over my laptop, my pants and the stack of brochures to be handed out at the DMA show.
Bodily injury to me: Scalding Hot Crotch.
Destroyed Mac Graphite: 1.
Sales made at the show: 0.
Earthquake ruining a perfectly good latte: Priceless.
Benjamin Bird, vice president, sales, Mass Market Masters, Studio City, CA
Parachute Man Enjoys the Bounce, Sway
I was one fortunate enough to have experienced the net.marketing earthquake. Although the experience was surreal, I was actually enjoying the bounce and sway of the conference floor. Perhaps that was because I was wearing a helmet and parachute gear.
It gave me the sensation of the airplane and knowing I had helmet on gave me comfort that I would not need to take up space under the doorframe and I should leave that space for someone who wasn't Parachute Man.
East Coasters Knew What to Do
I was near the back of the exhibit hall, and the first thing that made noise was an overhead garage door at the loading area. It sounded like somebody was pushing on it from the outside. Then I noticed it was moving in waves from the floor upward.
The floor started to rumble and I felt like I was in New York and the subway was moving below. The noise got really loud, and the whole building started to shake. I headed for the nearest vertical support column as there were no doorways nearby. It was interesting that even us East Coasters knew what to do. I looked up and watched as the air-conditioning ductwork and huge steel beams were flexing. It was pretty scary and I prayed it would all hold together.
The dust and sprayed-on insulation was raining down in chunks, but there didn't seem to be any major damage. I felt safer in the exhibit hall than the lobby because of the three-story wall and ceiling made up of huge glass panels. None of them seemed to even crack! Most people were calm. When it ended and we all headed outside to the plaza.
Once outside, the cell phones and PDAs started to light up. Everybody was trying to reach their loved ones and home offices to report the news and assure them they were all right. It was really difficult to get a line as the cells and landlines were jammed with calls. We were all trying to guess what was the magnitude of this quake and were there going to be aftershocks? The first reports were a 6.2, then 7.3 and finally 6.8. But you know how direct marketers are -- it turned into a big networking opportunity. I finally got though to my wife and office to give my report.
The DMA was very communicative with instructions and updates as to what the progress was with the building inspection. The Washington State Convention Center staff also was quite accommodating by bringing out the coat racks and even fresh tablecloths for anybody who was chilly or in shock. Once the conference was canceled, I headed back to the Sheraton on the next block.
I decided to "get out of Dodge" as I was booked on a 3:30 p.m. flight back to Newark. I grabbed the 12:30 p.m. Gray Line shuttle bus -- and even though the driver said the airport was closed, I took a chance. He said all the windows blew out of the control tower. We had to stop at two other hotels, and I saw that the Space Needle was still standing. The brief tour of Seattle proved that there did not seem to be that much damage. I saw one crumbled balcony, one power line down, a few street light covers fallen and mostly minor things. We got onto the interstate and headed south to the airport. Traffic was moving well on our side, but the northbound lanes were really backed up.
I arrived at the airport at 1:05 p.m. and checked in at the Continental counter and they said our plane was diverted to Portland. So I grabbed lunch, got a seat near the CNN monitor and began my wait. The airport was closed and no air traffic was coming in or going out. At 3 p.m., 10-12 flights all took off in succession. I found out they had been refueled before the earthquake. I was told that all other outbound flights were canceled because all fuel lines and storage tanks had to be inspected before they could be turned on again. Thousands of people had to find hotel rooms or go home. But our plane flew in from Portland and took us back to Newark! We took off at about 6 p.m. and arrived in Newark at 2 a.m. Got home at 3 a.m. and asleep by 4 a.m. Better late than stranded!
Jeffrey D. Schwarz, program manager supervisor, The Xchange Group, Parsippany, NJ
I Was a Last-Minute Replacement
I originally wasn't supposed to go to Seattle but was a last-minute replacement for another one of our account managers. The quake was certainly quite the experience. I work for MC Direct and was based in San Diego, so quakes are nothing new to me being I live in Southern California. But this Seattle quake was the biggest one I've experienced.
We were all pretty lucky based on the circumstance. I was in the Web and e-mail personalization seminar when it hit. I think one of the positives was the convention center staff. About 50 seconds after the quake hit, they were getting us out and showing us where to go. They did a great job. I'm actually glad I ended up being able to go. I learned a lot and was a part of DMA history.
Mike Campbell, account supervisor, MC Direct
Hotel Huffed and Puffed but Didn't Fall Down
Three members of the CAS Inc. sales team were at the net.marketing show when the quake rocked Seattle. Jim Grace and Crystal Howell were in the convention center and headed for the doorframes and open areas, as the ceiling appeared to be threatening to fall. I had just left the show and was on the 32nd floor of the Sheraton preparing for a client meeting. The hotel huffed and puffed but miraculously didn't fall down. It is an experience none of us will soon forget. It was a very, very long 45 seconds. Ten minutes after the quaking stopped, I headed for the appointment on the other side of Seattle and saw some of the damage to older parts of town.
April Clark, CAS Inc., Omaha, NE