Everything around me is shaking, and my body shakes along with it. This is what an earthquake must be like, the unpredictability and the fear, bodies and metal and concrete pulsating to some unknown rhythm. At least the subway is not dangerous. Earthquakes are bad. Earthquakes are out of control, you know, killing people left and right whenever they please. If we count how many people die in car crashes every day, cars are actually more dangerous than earthquakes. But people don't think so.

So, they're not.

Will we crash? I always wonder. No, of course not. It's more fun little by little, stop by stop, eating you alive. The brakes have a longer half-life than you.

This is about a week ago, before anything strange started to happen. Or maybe before I knew that anything strange was happening. Right now we are waiting, on a line as usual, Eddie and I, waiting, waiting for our turn to get our order at the local McDonald's. Half the people from the office are here. It could take a while, so my mind inevitably wanders. To the subway that day...


Full stop again. Doors open. Some people get on, others get off.

I hear someone calling me. I turn around.

It's Sally.

Hey, I say.

Hey, she says, sliding between bodies and finally standing close to me. There are a few shoulders between us, but it doesn't matter. Your typical modern conversation, mediated by flesh, or electrons. No real contact here.

I say, How are you doing?

She says, Fine, considering...

I say, Yeah I know what you mean.

But I didn't know, I just assumed I did. Now I know. She was talking about losing her job. And she assumed I really did know. But back to the subway.

I think you should also watch out, I think this has something to do with ITSRG, she says. She pauses for a moment, as if she's wondering whether she should tell me this or not, and then she adds: Before I left I was working on a list of strategic plans, apparently some big new thing.

Task force? I say, For what?

The reorg, she says.

Reorg? I think.

I say, Well, there's always some reorg going on.

She says, Yeah, tell me about it.

And that was that. We worked together occasionally, but that was it, so we had nothing to talk about. Nothing except work, that is.



Before I left she'd said. Now I know what she meant.

This afternoon, when we get back from lunch, I'll go find her things. They must still be there. If Eddie won't talk, I'll find out what's going on myself.

In the meantime, it's my turn. The person in front of me disappears, replaced by a guy dressed in standard-issue McDonald's clothing, like a soldier, and he smiles. A generous, heartwarming, fake smile.

Hi, he says, What can I get you?