Do Awnings Ever Awn?

lightningIt started with big fat drops then, in less than a minute, it was pouring. I was standing at the bus stop and of course I hadn’t brought an umbrella with me because it wasn’t raining when I left the office, and surely that thunder I’d heard just before I turned my computer off didn’t mean anything. And the thunder I heard as I was getting in the elevator didn’t mean anything. And, well, the flash of lightning and the peal of thunder as I was leaving the building where I work made me think I should go back and get an umbrella, but I didn’t want to risk missing the bus. There’s really no way to know when the bus will show up–yes, there’s a schedule, but it’s rarely right in good weather. If it’s raining count on waiting at least half an hour for a bus that comes every twenty minutes. There was no cover around the bus stop, but on the other side of the intersection was a dry cleaner’s with a broad awning over their parking lot. I’d have to stand behind one of the supports and lean out partly into the rain to keep an eye out for the bus, but it beat standing out in the open. It was also about thirty feet from the bus stop and ten feet back from the sidewalk which meant I risked being passed by, but, again, better than standing out in the open. It was also raining hard enough that the driver might not have seen me even if I’d been standing at the bus stop. And I appreciated the irony of getting out the rain by taking shelter at a dry cleaner’s. Sometimes the universe gives you these small gifts.

It was still raining when I saw the bus coming. In fact it was raining so hard I could barely make it out by its headlights and the bright green LED route number over the windshield. I leapt out onto the sidewalk and waved. The bus came to a stop so I didn’t get splashed. The doors opened. As I stepped on the driver asked, “Where’d you come from?”

“Mother always said I came from Heaven,” I said, smiling shyly. It’s a line I don’t often get a chance to use, but sometimes the universe gives you these small gifts.

12 Comments

  1. Ray V.

    Nicely said, sir. Nicely said.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Thank you, I appreciate that–especially since my words were followed by Shakespeare’s. And never the other way around. Shakespeare’s too tough an act to follow.

      Reply
  2. Ann Koplow

    I’m wondering what the bus driver’s reaction was, when you used that awe-ing line. I’m owning my own reaction — delight.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      In my bedraggled state I didn’t pay much attention to the driver’s reaction, and she didn’t say anything when I disembarked, but I hope she enjoyed it as much as you.

      Reply
  3. Gina W.

    OK, this is the Mom in me coming out, but Christopher you have got to take an umbrella with you whenever there’s even a CHANCE of rain. Waiting under an awning is fine but it’s the running across the street later to catch the bus that is worrisome. If you could barely see the bus lights then other drivers could probably barely see you! And you know it’s hard to stop on slick pavement. Have you considered using Uber? I’m impressed with every experience I’ve ever had with them. And the prices are way cheaper than a cab. Just something to keep in mind…

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I really try to remember to take an umbrella and have three or four scattered around–home, my office, the car–but sometimes I work too late and rush out to catch the next bus without thinking. I’ve never thought about Uber. There used to be a local taxi driver who also had a show on community access TV–he was “The Bat Poet” and wore a Batman mask and read his poetry. If he were still around I’d take a taxi on the off-chance I’d get a ride with him.

      Reply
  4. kdcol

    Gerald does this to me. I feel like I was left hanging. So what was the driver’s response? 🙂

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I wish I’d paid attention, but I was so relieved to be out of the rain I didn’t even notice the driver’s response.

      Reply
  5. Margot

    Like Gina W. I was also concerned for your safety while reading this story. It made me nervous to think of you rushing across an intersection in heavy rain. I’m glad that you were unharmed and that your plan went off without a hitch.

    How do you come up with the perfect line so quickly?!

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I wish I could claim it was original but it’s from the book From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, a kids’ book I read many, many, many years ago. Two kids live in a museum and even spend the night there. One of them is nearly caught by a janitor when he comes out of the bathroom first thing in the morning. I’ve never forgotten that line and I’ve always wanted to use it.

      Reply
  6. Sandra

    I’m laughing. That is one of those lines that (if my mother had actually ever said that to me) I would have thought 30 hours later would have been “a good one” to use on the bus driver. Very clever indeed.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      And I’m like you–normally I don’t think of a good line until much later–sometimes it’s weeks or even months. Why does my brain hang on to those? This was memorable because it was one of the rare times I had a good one ready and the courage to use it. Maybe I should get caught in the rain more often.

      Reply

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