I wasn’t going to mention anything about this. It’s kind of embarrassing, really. I mean, I’ve been trekking back and forth across Canada for the past few months trying to avoid rainy weather, even making a 2,500-kilometre ‘detour’ to the southwestern United States from Vancouver, only to be greeted – the very day after I arrive in Phoenix – by this:
Yes, that’s a rain cloud. A honkin’ big hot mess of a rain cloud. It’s there to do one thing and one thing only.
And rain hard.
And I and my still soggy shoes can verify that it did just that. When I walked out of the front door of my hotel at around 2:15 on the afternoon of September 22nd, a few big drops were just starting to splat against the pavement like clear bird poop. I put up my umbrella and thought nothing of it. Then, about 10 seconds later, before I’d made it even halfway across the parking lot, I was engulfed by what I can only describe as a pop-up land hurricane. As I turned around in hopes of dashing back into the hotel, I saw the entire building being swallowed by an advancing wall of water. There was no heading back there for shelter. I had no choice but to go with the flow of the wind and torrential rains that were now lashing me unmercifully from behind as I blew across the flash-flooded parking lot and street in what I hoped was the general direction of the bus stop.
I had my umbrella with me, but little good did it do me when the rain started pouring in through the top and the seams. In all my years of using umbrellas in the rain, this is the first time that has ever happened.
How ironic that the worst rain storm I ever experienced in my life was happening in the one city that I had run to for sanctuary from the rain.
And how embarrassing for me to have to admit that in public.
Which is why I decided not to mention the rain storm at all in my blog. Because imagine how stupid I’d look if people knew I’d gone all the way to Phoenix from Vancouver (2,500 kilometres!!!) to get away from the rain, only to be caught outdoors in Phoenix in the worst rainstorm of my life. I’d look pretty darn stupid. Pretty darn wet and stupid.
What was funny (to me), though, was how excited people were about the rain. When the worst of the deluge had passed, I emerged from my temporary shelter (cowering behind a door of a telephone junction box that had blown open) and waded the last few steps to the bus stop.
Within a few minutes (and several soakings by passing motorists as they hydroplaned across the flooded street), a bus showed up, plowing slowly and considerately through the water so as not to splash me. When the doors creaked opened, I was greeted by what I can only describe as a party atmosphere. Everyone was talking loudly and excitedly about the rain. Most of the passengers were as soaked as I was, but no-one seemed to mind. As I fumbled for my bus fare, trying unsuccessfully to dig into a pocket that had shrivelled shut, someone pushed a day pass into my hand and said “Use this; I don’t need it anymore.” The driver (whose job description was to prevent such illicit transfers of passes) just shrugged and smiled and waved me on.
Trust me when I say that that kind of largesse does not happen very often on a bus – not by passengers, and not by drivers. But it was like Christmas Day, people were so excited about the rain.
To the locals (as I found out later), the rain storm didn’t mean ruined afternoon plans and trashed shoes. It meant finally – after months of nearly unbearable and unrelenting heat – blessed relief, and a return to more bearable temperatures. Phoenix locals look as forward to the fall and winter as people in Canada do to the spring and summer, and the afternoon’s sudden deluge and subsequent inrush of cooler air signalled that fall had come not just on the calendar but in reality, too.
Not one person complained about the rain. Not one. Instead, these convivial strangers seemed almost proud of their wringing-wet shirts and pants, and good-naturedly argued loudly amongst themselves about whose shoes were more soaked and who had gotten splashed the most by passing motorists.
For me, this was Bizarro World. I grew up in a place where rain was always considered a negative (except maybe to farmers during a dry spell). I had never really considered rain to be a Godsend, but a Godsend it definitely was yesterday afternoon to all these happily chattering people. Who was I, then, to rain on their parade?
All things considered, I decided not to mention the storm in my blog. You might hear about it somewhere else in passing, but you won’t read about it here. Not written by me, anyway. I’d be too embarrassed to admit that I flew all the way to Phoenix to get away from the rain, only to be hammered by the worst (although mercifully brief) rain storm I’ve ever been caught in in my life.
Nope – you won’t hear about that storm from me. Some things are best left unsaid.