CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- You can learn a lot about yourself during an earthquake.
I learned I move much faster than most of my co-workers.
My instinct to flee is apparently well-honed, as no alarm was required for me to evacuate the building. It was probably still shaking when I booked out the door.
I've occasionally wondered how I'd react in a situation like that, wondered if the many post-apocalyptic books I've read over the years would somehow prepare me for most any scenario. Apparently, they prepared my feet. Those puppies can move.
I've had a few other occasions to learn how I'd react in bad situations. Many years back, I was working in a Putnam Village movie theater when, after the evening's final movie let out and nearly all the customers had left, the manager was called into one of the theaters by a man claiming to need help finding a lost wallet.
Once they were both in the dark theater, the man pulled a gun. He handcuffed the manager to a railing and then made him yell for me to come in. As soon as I walked in the door, he put his pistol to my head -- at one point, in my ear -- and walked me over to my boss. He cuffed us together, with a railing between us so we couldn't get free, then he went to the lobby to gather the cash.
Before the robber could leave, in walked the janitor and his wife. They were soon handcuffed to a nearby railing. The wife was terrified and became somewhat hysterical. I could sense that her increasingly shrill, "We're gonna die! We're gonna die!" was beginning to rattle our robber, so I began gently joking with him.