Sometime between six and six-thirty this evening, the guy upstairs decided to open up the clouds in the middle of the sizzling summer heat, let loose a massive downpour of rain, and literally ROTFL.
Unfortunately for me, six-thirty happens to be the usual time at which I leave the office. Usually I just step outside, stretch a little, and then proceed to walk the twelve blocks to my brother's office where we catch our ride home. Earlier this evening, however, those twelve blocks became a quagmire of trapped commuters, inundated streets, and harassed traffic enforcers. Saying that the rain was heavy was like saying that the ocean was wet.
I figured that I came well-prepared, though. People who know me personally will attest that I've been toting around a black umbrella since college, and it's constantly on my person just in case I ever run into sudden cloudbursts during warm summer nights. So I unfurled the black monster, shouldered my briefcase, and stepped into the dark oblivion that was the next twelve blocks.
Yes, my resolve to get through the rain got a lot of "Are you crazy?" looks in the process. In fact, halfway through my leisurely walk, my 'resolve' started looking more like 'stupidity'.
The rain was relentless, pounding at my umbrella with the force of a carpenter's hammer. By the time I had walked three blocks, my shoes were squishing, the cuffs of my slacks were drenched, and my sleeves were wilting from the umbrella's residual runoff.
With the recent paving projects undertaken by the good city, I usually had a clear, comfortable fifteen-minute walk before me on normal days. As this day had officially become far from normal, however, I discovered that the city had neglected to level the newly-paved sidewalks properly. Rainwater pooled in extended patches before me, and I just blundered through it like a preschooler who didn't know better.
Perhaps "blundered" isn't the correct word, though - my shoes were audibly squeaking. And leaking, although this wasn't evident until the end of my journey.
Waiting at the last traffic stop was probably the most introspective part of the trip. That was where I stood in the middle of the massive downpour, narrowly evaded the waves of brackish water the speeding cars threw at me, and generally and plainly thought, this sucks.
When I finally squinch-squanched my way into the lobby of my brother's office building, I was greeted by a host of people who gave me that most fulfilling of looks: "Did you just walk twelve blocks through that?"
I raised one shoe and watched a thin stream of water leak out of the heel. Yeah, I answered telepathically.
A three-year-old boy holding his own little black umbrella walked past me then, giving me the good long stare that most little kids do. At least, I think he was three years old... he was knowledgeable enough to open his own umbrella, to say the least. He stepped out into the rain, listening as it pelted his waterproof raincoat as it did my good shirt earlier.
So I watched there as the little boy with the little black umbrella wandered in the endless downpour, wondering how long he was going to splash around on the edges of dark oblivion. And I smiled then, thinking of neither the rainfall nor the long weary journey home, but of how long it would probably take me to change my socks.