Yesterday I got caught in the rain. Stupid of me. I should have paid attention to the morning weather reports that said “possible showers.” Of course it said showers not downpour like the one that I found myself caught in when I left my office.
I’m not complaining about the rain. We need it. What happened in the subway station is what sticks with me.
Rain? Subways? Was it raining in the subways?
I was planning on walking uptown 20 blocks or so to a meeting with friends. When I walked out of the office building it was cloudy but not threatening. As I got about a block or so away from my office — and the umbrella in it — the sprinkles started. Of course I figured I could cover the walk uptown and maybe I’d get a little damp. After all they were only sprinkles.
I got another block and the sprinkles became showers. “Walk faster” I said to myself. So I walked faster. My shirt was quickly moving from damp to wet.
After another block it was like someone turned the knob on the spigot. The water was coming down with more force. I ducked into a doorway and thought about waiting it out. But I didn’t want to be late for my appointment. I still had more than a dozen long blocks to cover. And it was rush hour in Manhattan. If you have never experienced a New York rush hour as a pedestrian, you can’t really imagine what it’s like to be buffeted, banged into and pushed if you’re just standing on the sidewalk. It’s either move or get walked over, not walked around. Welcome to New York.
So I moved. Just as I stepped out of the doorway the rain really came down. Not a shower this time but a sheet. People weren’t walking. They started running. Since the streets were so crowded people were just bumping into each other. That led to elbowing, cursing, jostling, and the rain kept coming down.
Rather than get socked and pummeled I opted for a true New York solution — duck into an underground subway station. Needless to say I was surrounded by other true New Yorkers so once I got down the stairs I found a crowd of people ranging from damp to sopped.
We all stood there moving a few inches here and a few inches there because everyone wanted to get going to wherever it was they were going just a few minutes before. As the bodies shifted everyone’s eyes were focused on the stairwell waiting to see the rain cease or at least lessen.
As I stood there I became more and more anxious. I hate being late but I didn’t want to show up soaked to the skin. You might ask yourself why I didn’t take the subway since I was in a subway station? Good question but I made a bad choice of stations. The one I was in had trains that only went north and south in direction and I needed to go east from the west side of Manhattan. So I had no choice but to wait it out.
Then I saw a sign of the rain stopping rising from the stairs that connected to the subway platforms below.
It was a man in a spiffy suit. He was wearing a really spiffy suit, complete with pocket square. The suit looked to be a lightweight wool, grey, with thin subtle pinstripes. From cuffs to trouser hems, the suit fit the man perfectly. The wearer himself was tan, tall, physically fit, with precisely cut swept back grey hair.
When I saw him I knew I would make it to my meeting on time. I knew that the rain would stop as soon as he set foot on the stairs leading up to the street. As spiffy-suit-man approached me he paused for a second and looked up the stairway. Just as I knew it would, the rain stopped. Just stopped.
I knew it. The rain wouldn’t dare fall on him and his spiffy, grey, perfectly cut, pinstripe bedecked garb. For some reason and for some people it never does.
I followed him up the stairs to the street above and made it to my meeting on time.