If you like chilly, driving rain, strong winds, and a temperature hovering just over fifty degrees, you would have loved downtown Chicago today. I enjoy foul weather from time to time because it’s pleasant to be inside while it happens. Blow, ye winds, like trumpets blow, but put the kettle on.
It was ugly today. I had two appointments and didn’t think to bring an umbrella along when I left the house. (I did put on my rain jacket and it does have a hood.) The rain began approximately eight minutes after I got out the door. It wasn’t committing to being a downpour, though; it was the kind of rain that makes you think, “Aw, man! Well, it’s not that bad, I’m almost there” but while you’re looking on the bright side, it’s getting worse. You’re the lobster in the pot that doesn’t feel the water getting hotter and hotter, except that in this situation you’re a human, you’re walking to the drugstore, and you’re getting colder and wetter by the second. The wind kept blowing my hood back so I had to pinch it shut at my chin while my hand got soaked. It was not fun.
I was suffering along, headed for my second appointment when I heard a remarkably emotional man turning the air blue with rage. I look over to my right and this thirtysomething dude is positively freaking out. His umbrella had broken — and he hated his broken umbrella.
“G-D sonofa B! Effin’ Chicago! Eff you! G-D it!”
He was angry at the city! Cursing Chicago itself! Cursing it for today’s terrible weather and, I assume, for its general weather pattern, which is to say no pattern at all, just violent changes every five minutes. He was literally shaking his fist at the sky, furious. I had never seen anything quite like this. Well, that’s not true: I have witnessed plenty of angry rants directed at the gods, but those have always come from the pitiable, deranged folks on the subway or on Lower Wacker. This particular individual seemed to me to be having a special moment. He was flailing around, whipping his broken umbrella back and forth and gritting his teeth so hard they could’ve popped right out.
He didn’t have a coat on, and I think that was part of it. It was really cold. He had gotten stuck in the cold rain with a broken umbrella and that’s lousy enough, but I have a feeling it was a really bad day at work, too, or maybe he lost his wallet. I was witnessing one of the worst days in that guy’s recent memory, whatever it was.
Like poisonous snakes and thorny bushes, one must avoid ragey strangers in the city, so I gave the guy a wide berth and kept my quick pace to make it to my appointment on time, however soaked. But wouldn’t you know it, the guy was headed in my direction and had taken the other side of the street, so I saw him again and he was still struggling with the umbrella. He was trying to put it back together but it was futile. I saw him wang it against the side of a building a couple times before throwing it on the ground as I went through the door at 116 South Michigan.
Haven’t you always wondered what happens to those broken umbrellas everywhere? Now you know.