Rain, rain, rain—something I became very familiar with while living in London. It wasn’t as bad as you might think. Most days the weather was dry, grey and cold. My favourite times of year were spring and autumn, the seasons where the world of nature awakened for the year and then went back to bed. But the rain was always there. The frequency of the rain meant that I needed an umbrella. I hate umbrellas. You have to walk around holding this thing above your head in the perfect position, so as not to get wet. Depending on the direction of the rainfall, that position would change. I got a rude awakening while walking the streets of London while it poured. It was already uncomfortable for me to hold an implement that I abhorred, even if it promised to keep me dry. It was really the war of the brollies that got me going. The pace of the city didn’t change when it rained. People still hustled, just while walking under their umbrella. It’s the worst feeling to be walking with your umbrella and getting knocked by the brollies of other pedestrians. It would just upset my equilibrium. I was astounded at this repeated action as passers-by continued to charge forward, using the span of their umbrella to clear the way.
Last week, I happened to be walking through the streets of Port-of-Spain during a downpour. Of course, my days for carrying an umbrella are over. As I walked on the street, I noticed people would either raise their umbrellas higher so as not to hit me, or move to the side to avoid me completely. This was such a refreshing sight after spending eight years being abused by flocks of umbrellas when it rained. I watched as the pace of walking slowed down too, as pedestrians walked with caution on the drenched pavements, avoiding making contact with fellow pedestrians also en route. Now, driving when it rains here in Trinidad—that’s a different story. Automatically, traffic increases by 25 per cent. Granted I don’t have any quantitative analysis to back up that statistic, but it seems about right. The rain seems to bring the country to a halt. I don’t know if it’s a visibility issue that makes drivers cautious or a superstition that driving on wet roads regardless of speed will lead to accidents. Maybe motorists are dreaming of being in bed and their reverie gets the best of them, resulting in slower driving and the traffic getting worse.
While pedestrians seem to consider each other on the pavements, manouevring their umbrellas so as not to dig out ah eye or two, this consideration does not seem to extend to drivers. Pedestrians feel that they have the right of way simply because they are getting wet and I am comfortable and dry in my car. They cross the street whenever and wherever, expecting me to stop, even with the lack of notice given. Regardless of the fact that the road is now wet and may compromise my ability to stop on a dime. Clearly, you not getting your newly purchased hair wet is more of a priority than road safety.
Rain slows the country down so much that it’s a reason to be late:
“Boss, sorry to be late eh, yuh eh see dat rain outside?”
I remember the first time it rained while I lived in London. I was still getting acquainted with my route to work and that day, it was just difficult to walk with the same speed that got me to work on time. Needless to say, the rain was not a good enough reason to be tardy and a lecture ensued. I remember the look of horror on my manager’s face as I confidently cited the downpour as my reason for being late. “So if it rains every day, Michelle, will you be late every day? Why not check the weather forecast so you know to leave home earlier?” Check the weather? London had a Robin Maharaj too? So I had to carry an umbrella with me at all times, check the weather report and leave home earlier if I was promised rain, get bounce up all how, by people with their umbrellas, as I walked to the various points during my journey. Nah! So most times, when it rained, I dug deep in my pockets and took a black cab. Cost a pretty penny each time but at least I got to enjoy the view of other people suffering on the streets. Back home now, I just sit back and enjoy the ride. I’ve reacclimatised to the lackadaisical attitude people assume because of the rain. Whether they’re walking or driving. I don’t check the weather—as we all know, it’s the same every day. A few scattered showers, right?