by Anita Marie Moscoso
written for The Soul Food Cafe’s
I have first hand experience with closed off and forgotten rooms- those creepy ones that you just know you shouldn’t go into – I go into those places.
This is a true story.
This clock stopped at exactly 10:55 when the Nisqually Earthquake struck. It’s down the street from where I work in Pioneer Square
Feb 28, 2001
We found a closed off room in the back off the warehouse I work in.
We went into it after the earthquake because part of a wall had slid away from the building and it need to be repaired. Anyway we went back there because we were checking places we didn’t use often or at all for for damage.
As we inspected the building we found lots of little weird things.One of the strange things we found were windows between the walls that had been painted black and we found burn and scorch marks under floorboards but not above the floors.
The oddest thing we found was a little workroom where a new wall had been built in front of the doorway and there was actually a little hallway between the new wall and the old wall.
The door to this ‘hallway’ was behind an old chalkboard and if you wanted to find it all you had to do was lift the board.
It wasn’t even locked
This second door was locked and we did have to force that one open.
We found this room full of fixtures still hanging from above the workbench waiting to be repaired. There were coffee cups on the desk and really nice and expensive tools all over the place.
There were even boxed fixtures waiting to be sent out.
By the looks of it the room had been shut up back in the 1970’s during the middle of a regular workday.
As we stood there I remembered a co-worker told that me his good friend use to be the warehouse manager years ago and he had died down in the workshop from an aneurysm.
I thought he meant the workshop that’s in the open corner of the warehouse now. It’s a small work area where they build displays in now. Anyway, I couldn’t imagine any other place in the warehouse he could’ve been talking about.
But finding that room after the Nisqually Quake was the oddest thing I’ve experienced down in that warehouse .
Shortly after I began working at my Warehouse I kept seeing a man in his 40’s wearing a blue plaid shirt walk by me on the stairs or walking by me as I was receiving stock.
Once he even looked at me, with a cup of coffee in his hand and smiled.
I remember thinking he was one of those fake people who smiled because he had to…you know to be polite. Because when he smiled at me, it was like he wasn’t really looking at me.
Something kept me back from asking people who he was, I’m not sure if it’s because I was a new employee and was simply overwhelmed by all the new faces or if I didn’t care because he was creepy…he was just there and then he’d walk away and never say anything.
So at the same time I was seeing Mr Phoney Baloney ( as I thought of him ) I started having this nightmare about this AWFUL voice coming up out of the elevator shaft.
Our elevator is a VERY old fashion freight elevator that looks like an open cage and has double doors that slide up and down because it’s not enclosed so you feel like your falling when you’re riding in it. People hate that thing. I don’t, I think it’s cool. It’s an antique and when we’ve had to have work done on it we have to have the parts made by special order.
Back to the voice that seemed to be coming up out of the elavator shaft.
The voice didn’t sound like a voice. It sounded liked rocks hitting each other…grinding against each other, only I could understand the words.
The last night I had the dream I dreamed I was in the store and there was this little pile of broken fixtures on the showroom floor and that weird voice was telling me it was coming, it would take what it could and that the elevator was it’s domain.
I was so intimidated by that dream I was sending stock from floor to floor on the elevator by itself and then take the backstairs through the offices to get to the elevator to take freight off.
It was the long way around, but I couldn’t after having that dream night after night go anywhere near that elevator.
That included the stairs that go up along side of it.
Everytime I tried to use the stairs I started to get what felt like claustrophobia and I’d get angry just thinking about having to walk anything up stairs because I hated going into that stairwell.
The morning the Quake hit I had been standing all morning assembling this complicated crystal chandelier at my workbench and shortly after starting the task I started having problems with the fixture.
The problem I had was that the little crystals were rolling off the bench every once and awhile. I kept dropping things; I was nervous, short tempered on the phone, snapping answers to my co-workers. I would look at the directions for the fixture and they made no sense. It was like looking at a foreign language.
Along with that I felt like someone had been yelling and picking at me all morning. When this set of wire cutters fell off my bench and almost hit me on the foot that was IT.
I decided to give it a rest and take and early lunch.
I went upstairs and got my friend and we were walking out into the hallway in front of her office when I heard the elevator car start to slam against the wall of the elevator shaft and for some weird reason I started to laugh.
That’s when the Nisqually Quake hit.
During the earthquake I saw the man in the blue plaid work shirt standing next to me while the floor was buckling and the building was shaking. I was hugging the wall, dragging my friend and trying to get under a doorway when I saw him. I thought it was strange he didn’t seem to be having trouble following me because he was walking so steady.
I ignored him because first of all he looked like he was okay and my friend was about to pass out from shock and I had other things to focus on.
Like the lighting fixtures hanging from the ceilings.
We have those hanging fluorescent lighting fixtures in our building and I didn’t want one to break and fall on us because the powder in the bulbs BURNS.
But this is what I saw when I looked up- I saw those old fashion single light fixtures that look like little round cages.
We don’t have those old fixtures anywhere in our buidling.
When I looked down I saw that the coke machine looked like it was going to fall on us and there was these book cases falling away from the wall too that I didn’t have time THEN to wonder what the heck was going on.
I just wanted to get to a safe spot
Finally we got under the doorframe and could stand upright, the man was standing next to us and this time he really smiled at me.
Then I looked out the window and saw Seattle shimmering like a mirage, I saw bricks sliding away from buildings, I saw people standing in the middle of the crosswalks and streets paralyzed in fear.
When I glanced to my left, the man in the blue plaid shirt was gone.
I found out later that the elevator shaft itself was damaged after the earthquake and that the stairwell had been constructed wrong many years before.
We were lucky it didn’t collapse as well.
In fact, the inspector red tagged it after he taking a brief look at it and started yelling up the stairs to anyone in there to get out ” RIGHT THE HELL NOW! “
People had been using those stairs right after the earthquake to get from one floor to another. Except for me, I used the back stairs.
After all of this, I would have to say the architects and FEMA inspectors who explained to me that the old foundation of our building actually buckled up and tried to come through the new foundation best explained my experience that week.
That’s what I think had been happening all that week until 10:55 when the Nisqually quake hit; the past had somehow found it’s way into the present.
They were right; I saw it happen.