If an earthquake has your name on it …

Thumbnail image for san francisco.jpgPhoto by Alain Picard/frontendeveloper.com via Flickr

It sounds like the East Coast came through the quake with most of its people, property and dignity intact. Even so, it’s scary to see normally stationary fixtures start to sway, so I don’t blame people for freaking out.

My colleague Molly Bloom came up with the wording we settled on for Today’s Question: Does the risk of natural disaster shape where you live or travel? I knew it was a good choice because it made me want to answer.

Long ago I took a geology course at the University of Minnesota from a professor who, I distinctly remember, warned us about the danger of traveling to San Francisco. The Big One was coming, he said. If it doesn’t happen today, that only increases its chances of happening tomorrow. And if not tomorrow, then the day after. The professor said that he wouldn’t visit the Bay Area until after the major, killer earthquake that he knew was coming.

Then and there, I resolved to follow his example.

Years later, after a moderate earthquake on the West Coast, I decided to give my old prof a call and invite him to write a commentary about his personal decision not to visit San Francisco until after the next big quake.

“I said what?” he said. “No. I’m sure I never said that. I love San Francisco. I go there all the time.”

But … but … I’ve been avoiding San Francisco for 20 years because you told me to.

“I’m sorry,” he said, “but I never said that.”

There’s a lesson in here somewhere.