Only in California

A little over five years ago, I experienced an incident that kind of defines how people from other states view Californians.  My house was fairly new, and I don’t remember if we had a security system yet.  I had just arrived home, my wife was running a few minutes late, and my sister was going to arrive anytime for a visit.  I sat down on my couch and had just turned on the television when I heard three loud, pounding noises from the upstairs – noises like someone who didn’t belong, madly running away when the homeowner arrives.

I slouched and thought, “Oh, no!”  Actually, I’m sure an expletive came to mind in place of “no.”  You see, I don’t own a gun, and at that time I didn’t even have pepper spray.  In fact, the only two items I own that could be used as weapons, a hunting knife and a baseball bat, were both upstairs.

Within a few seconds, about the time I expected someone to barrel down the stairs or leap out a window, the whole house started shaking.  “Whew,” what a relief, it was “only an earthquake.” 

Within a minute, while I was still shaking off the jitters from suspecting an intruder, both my wife and sister arrived.  Neither of them felt the quake while driving, which was apparently common.

So, why could this only happen in CA?

  • I am liberal enough to not believe in owning fatal weapons
  • Realizing it was “only an earthquake” was relieving – relaxing even
  • Most people who were driving couldn’t tell a quake from their own driving behavior

And if you are wondering, the three loud bangs were a structural feature.  My house was new and built to settle.  The early, unfelt waves of the earthquake had accelerated the setting process.

So, have you had any experiences that highlight the stereotypes of your region?

About R. Garrett Wilson

I am a member of the Stanislaus World Builders writing group and have participated in the FSFW writing group. I have written one drama that was based on the book of Mark and performed at my church in 2007. My story, Journeyer, is published in Analog Magazine and a novelette, The Bakrra Encounter, in the FSFW 2010 anthology, I Dreamed a Crooked Dream. I also took part in the community novel project, Stanislaus Reads and Writes, and have a chapter in their novel, Ashes in a Teardrop. Beyond writing, I enjoy road trips, photography, woodworking, watching tennis and cycling, and reading.
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One Response to Only in California

  1. Too funny! In a visit to CA, I woke up to an earthquake and my stomach dropped into the basement. You must have nerves of steel to relax in one!

    And funny, I would have said that “not believing in owning fatal weapons” was a conservative thing. Interesting.

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