An Interview With a Guy Who Got a Vasectomy During the East Coast Earthquake


A 4.8-magnitude earthquake shook parts of the East Coast of the US on Friday. I was safe in my apartment wondering if the violent rocking in my building was because my neighbor was running their washing machine or if my building’s bad pipes were finally about to rupture in a spectacular fashion.

But Justin Allen, a stay-at-home father from Pennsylvania, was probably in the absolute last place you’d want to be during an earthquake. He was laid out on an examination bed with a doctor’s hands, and pointy objects, snipping at his testicles.

About an hour after Allen left the clinic and ran to the pharmacy, he called WIRED to chat about the absurd timing of his vasectomy.

Makena Kelly: OK. First off, are you all good?

Justin Allen: I’m good. Just got home. Starting to relax now.

Were you already nervous before the procedure started?

I already have white-coat hypertension. So my blood pressure was already super high when I got in, and I was definitely nervous. The doctor walked me through it step-by-step, which was calming throughout the whole thing, but I’m always nervous over things like that.

At what stage of the procedure did this happen?

We were probably almost at the midway point. Essentially, the procedure started around 10:10 [am ET] and it was 10:24 or 10:25 that the earthquake hit.

Could you, uh, paint the picture for me of what it was like on that table?

I’m laying there. He’s in the middle of whatever he needs to do down there, and the whole building started shaking. I wasn’t sure what was happening. It definitely felt like an earthquake, but we don’t normally have those. I didn’t know if there was a train nearby or something that would cause the building to shake.

And then the doctor was like, “Oh my, God. That’s an earthquake.” I thought he was messing with me. I thought it was just him trying to be funny. But as this was happening, the desk staff outside the room started screaming about an earthquake, and I was like “Oh, wow this is really happening.” And the doctor puts the tools down and asks, “How long does an earthquake normally last?” and the nurse said, “I think about a minute or two.” So we stopped and waited, and he resumed as soon as it was done.

So he stopped right as the shaking happened?

I think so. He was toward the end of whatever step he was doing right then and there. But he did set the tools down for a moment to recalibrate.

And at that moment, how were you feeling?

We were laughing about it, because we’ve never really experienced it. So it didn’t seem like a dangerous earthquake. It was just kind of rumbling. And then the doctor, the nurse, and myself were all joking about how we’ll never forget where we were at this moment. I get this whole story for the rest of my life. That I had a vasectomy and the earthquake happened and I’m not living in California or anything like that. On the East Coast, it just doesn’t happen. It was certainly a surprise.



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