The strangest thing was that even though he'd held a gun on me, I felt absolutely no fear. I talked to him and quieted the janitor's wife and he left. The fear didn't kick in until it was over. When the police arrived, my knees turned to rubber. For weeks afterward, I had terrible dreams, and I couldn't stop feeling the point where his gun touched my skin.
Still, while it had been happening, I'd remained clearheaded and calm. It was reassuring to learn that was how I'd react.
In the years since, I've had a few other occasions where I was put on the spot in lesser ways than the robbery. In those, too, I stayed completely calm until after, when I would fall completely apart. There'd be pieces of me everywhere. A limb here. A chunk of hair there. Reassembly could be slow and unwieldy. Like trying to tape Jell-O together.
After the earthquake, I sat outside on a wall on the Capitol grounds, surrounded by a few hundred co-workers. I was calm -- even sort of amused. It was all so bizarre. But I kept thinking I could feel the ground moving again. No one else seemed to feel it. Since I wanted to avoid dropping body parts in public, I distracted myself with conversation, and the rubber-leg sensation eventually passed.
So I guess what I'm saying is, if you ever happen to see me out running, I'm not a jogger, so you might want to run too.
And if you're there when I stop, stick around. I'll probably need help picking up the pieces.
Reach Karin Fuller via email at karinful...@gmail.com.