Caught in the Rain
I like being prepared at all times, but this morning I failed. I knew rain was in the forecast, but thought nothing of it. It was raining ever so slightly, barely a mist, when my train left Joliet. I lost myself in a book, but when I finally looked out the window as the train approached the South Loop, I could see it was raining much harder. As the train pulled into the LaSalle Street Station (not my regular station, as I missed my earlier train, thus giving me a considerably longer and more exposed walk) and I packed my book away, I reached into the side of my bag where I keep my umbrella. Nothing there. I instantly realized it was sitting back home, in a corner of the garage where I had left it to dry after the last time it rained.
Chicago is only a fair place to walk in the rain without an umbrella, probably because it rains here so rarely. Many of the newer buildings do have open-air covered walkways which offer precipatory protection, but the older buildings come right to the edge of the sidewalk with solid walls of masonry. I decided it wasn't coming down too badly, and I could make a run for it. An unwise decision, as it turns out.
I cut through a building which has an indoor corridor running all the way from Van Buren to Jackson, at the end of which was a CVS drugstore. I stopped in, intending to buy a cheap umbrella. But the umbrella stand was conspicuously free of price tags, which makes me wonder if their umbrellas have flexible pricing based on the weather. Yesterday, when it was sunny and 95 degrees, I'll bet they were going for eight bucks a pop. The lack of price tags felt a bit unseemly, and I decided to forego my purchase. I had no appetite for discovering that today, in a steadily increasing downpour, the going price had leaped to, say, twenty bucks.
I exited CVS and cut across the street to the Sears Tower parking garage, where I could walk under cover all the way from Wells to Franklin. But when I reached the other side, I was stuck. On the other side of Franklin was the Sears Tower, with a concrete retaining wall looming next to the sidewalk for an entire block, and across the street were older buildings with no overhang whatsoever. It was really pouring now, but I had no choice. When the walk light changed, I bolted from the garage and ran hellbent up the sidewalk next to the retaining wall, getting drenched within seconds. I cut across Adams, gaining the shelter of a Northern Trust branch office. It was then I decided it was futile to keep wiping off my glasses, and finally looking down, I saw that the dregs of my coffee mug had splattered my jeans with dark brown spots. What a lovely fashion statement.
So I had a sheltered reprieve, but again I was stuck. To the north on Wacker was a construction zone, and to stay on Adams meant a long sprint across Wacker's broad expanse, and then another block to cross the river. I decided on the latter, and eventually made it to South Riverside Plaza, where the newer buildings mercifully have broad overhangs which run the entire length of the block. I damply walked up to Monroe, waiting at the edge of the overhang for the walk light before sprinting to the other side, gaining cover from an identical building. The process would repeat itself at Madison, just across the street from my office. While waiting under cover for the walk light, an enterprising young guy was offering some sort of umbrella shuttle to the taxicab stands on Canal Street.
The walk light changed, and I made my final sprint across Madison. I avoided a shortcut through the Osco on the corner, figuring I couldn't get much wetter than I already was. I pushed my way through the revolving doors and headed towards the elevator, looking like a sodden stray dog.
It's 11 A.M., and I'm still quite damp, and probably will be all day. I've learned my lesson. I hope.