Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Singin' and Dancin' in the New York Rain

Rain, rain, go away. You’re much needed in this national drought, if only to offer brief respite from the incredible heat.  But you make pedestrian transit nearly impossible—or, at the very least, incredibly frustrating.

A New York pedestrian with an umbrella actually develops quicker reflexes, ducking through and around other pedestrians, umbrellas, awnings, and food carts—Frogger style. To find the minute opening between other umbrellas and their slow-moving owners is an involved undertaking, and weaving through the sidewalks can actually become a delicate dance of graceful(less) sliding, jumping, and quick-stepping.  This is a dance with a prop, of course, which the dancer must learn to collapse-and-reopen effortlessly and quickly to skirt through small gaps in the pedestrian wall and under/around scaffolding.  With this umbrella, the dancer must also institute a constant up-down motion, above the heads of the unfortunates without umbrellas (or with height challenges), under the umbrellas of tall pedestrians or those who decide that the gargantuan span of a golf umbrella was a wise choice on the crowded sidewalk.

Of course, if a pedestrian is lucky enough to be caught without an umbrella (such as yours truly during the storm sneak-attack on Wednesday night), the event of walking (such an easy, taken-for-granted prospect on dry days), becomes less of a dance and more of a survival strategy.  First: which subway route to take?  Go one way, and the walk to the station is shorter, but go the longer route, and you get the benefit of more awnings.  Decisions. 

Once the unfortunate, umbrella-deprived pedestrian (let’s call her Leah – for kicks and giggles, of course) decides which path to take (the longer walk with more awnings and fewer train transfers, incidentally), she obviously wants to move more quickly, to walk faster despite the treadless flats she wears, to get to the subway.  This may not limit rain exposure, but it definitely lessens the time spent uncomfortably in the elements.  However, as if people walking slowly in groups two or three (or four?!)-abreast was not already a frustration, they now increase their girth by walking abreast with umbrellas.  The indecency! On top of this, many pedestrians passing by refuse to offer the courtesy of lifting their umbrellas,  resulting in swipes of the umbrella edge across Leah’s shoulder, collisions with her head, and several occasions of increased wetness from the rain streaming off of the umbrella.  Furthermore, the trains seem to run with increasing delays when it rains, even when most of the route (and all of Leah’s) is underground, which is baffling. 

If only Leah had been prepared—with an umbrella, yes—but more importantly, at home, curled up with a good book to listen to the thunder. THEN we can say, “come again another day.” 

Rainy Day family in Bed-Stuy

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