Sunday, May 29, 2011

What Happens When It Rains?

When I tell people that my red Yamaha scooter is my main (and only) method of transport around the city they ask any number of questions.  Precipitation is sometimes a question they pose.

"What happens when it rains?" Their faces begin to twist in concern.

"Well..." I pause as I search for the missing correct answer that will appease their worried expressions. "...I get wet."

Staying dry while riding is something I appreciate and I do take caution to protect myself from the elements (i.e. acid rain).  I own a raincoat.  But there are times when even waterproof polyester won't cut it.  Thursday of last week was one of those times.

Just as I turned onto the busiest street in Atlanta on my way home from work, it concurrently erupted from above and in front of me.  Sheets of rain soaked me almost immediately and wind blasts threatened my balance.  In order to avoid any accident I was forced to pull over.  I stopped under an overhang and parked my bike in front of a dry cleaner's shop.  The Chinese restaurant next store called out to me, a reprieve from overburdened clouds.  Inside, I sat and ate my hot and sour soup despite the puddle of water collecting below my seat and the fact that the small enclave was a take-out only joint.

One of my spoonfuls was soon interrupted by the entrance of an exuberant man, who I soon learned owned the dry cleaner's next door and was born and raised in Jamaica.  He chatted with the waitress and took a perch near the counter as I imagined he regularly did.  I listened to his stories of motorcycling in Jamaica: the races; the hospitalized injuries; the trips along the open road.  My ear was sympathetic, knowing the pains and pleasures of traveling by bike.

The bell rang as he exited the building and I peered outside to assess the weather.  The rain was still falling but not with the ferocity it once was.  I tried to clean up the wet mess I had made to brave once again the gray and puddles and damp that lay ahead.

I made it home, ran a hot bath, and absorbed the warmth like a cold-blooded reptile.  I had gotten wet and somehow it had made all the difference.

The hot and sour soup and friendly conversation with the Jamaican owner of a dry cleaner's shop were pleasant deterrences from a normal routine and reaffirmations of why I love driving on two wheels.  Not only am I more connected to the people in my community; I hear the nuanced noises of the seasonal winds; I feel the cracked asphalt beneath me.

Sometimes it's ok to get wet.

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