The San Francisco Guide to the Richter magnitude scale is as follows:
1.0 = No such thing. It’s like the number zero. It lives only in theory. Scientists say it exists, but whatever.
2.0 = Please. Don’t waste our motherfucking time.
3.0 = A cough. A burp. A hiccup. Same difference. Except without the noise.
4.0 = Was that a …? No. Yes. Undetectable to travelers in cars, buses, subways. The chandelier shakes, but does not swing.
5.0 = The chandelier swings. People act like shit happened, but nothing really happened. FOX News runs multiple clips of disorderly supermarket aisles. Maybe a cleanup on aisle 5. Was that a car alarm?
6.0 = Shit happened. Ruptured water mains. Minor looting in the Tenderloin. Tenants of skyscrapers soil themselves. Why, O why did the city fathers build directly on top of a fault line? Surely the Ohlone knew this land was cursed. Foolish white man! But the views! O, the views!
7.0 = 1989 redux. How’s that Bay Bridge repair going? Not so speedy? Too bad. FEMA can’t help you now, bitch. The barter value of bottled water, candles and board games increases by a factor of five. Persons with smart phones have the power of feudal lords.
8.0 = Behold, the Wrath of God. Old Testament comparisons to Sodom become painfully apt. Witness undulating waves of earth. Aftershocks for days. The Marina and the Embarcadero have liquefied. What was once “Nob Hill” is now just “Nob”. Life resembles the worst kind of apocalyptic anime. Earth, Wind & Fire are no longer a 70’s band. Half your Facebook contacts are dead.
9.0 = What San Francisco?