Wednesday, November 6, 2013

When it Rains, it Pours Surprise

Sometimes it rains. Sometimes it rains in Austin, TX. Sometimes it rains in the Atacama Desert, although in that last sentence "sometimes" is a word meaning "really almost never."

Me in the rain. Approximately.
People have always had their little methods to determine when it's going to rain: checking the weather reports, feeling the ol' rheumatoid arthritis, the sky that's a funny color, and looking at whether my hair has expanded to encompass two zip codes. 

This fall has been rainy in Austin, but don't tell anyone, because they're too busy complaining about the DEADLY DROUGHT. A few weeks ago, one day was especially noteworthy. All of the signs pointed to rain. The Weather Channel app said it would rain. The nearly-100%-humidity said that it was very moist. My hair said we should start building an ark. And yet I did not take an umbrella

Why did I neglect to grab such a handy apparatus? Well, probably because by the time I'm heading out the door on any given morning, I've generally eaten into any buffer time I gave myself, and it's imperative that I eventually get around to actually crossing the threshold and leaving my apartment. We call this the "Lot's Wife Directive for Getting Ready: DON'T LOOK BACK." So even though I walked out the door and my hair immediately started heading for the hills (the hills are everywhere and so was my hair), I thought "nah, I won't need an umbrella!" 

This, children, is what we call "a foolish decision." Of COURSE I needed an umbrella. Just the week
Prior Adventure: Wading in
the Beltway
prior, I had been on my way back from an interview in D.C. and had taken public transportation instead of a cab because I had to prove it to myself that my urban skills had not completely dissipated after a few years of lying fallow. That had ended with my drying off some very wet interview clothes with approximately one forest's worth of paper towels. You'd think the lesson "getting caught in the rain is a big bummer," would be into my head by now. You'd be wrong. 

So anyway, I set off and made it to school without a single drop hitting me. Hooray! But when it was time to go home later, the weather was very different. Downpour different. You're-not-leaving-here-dry-if-we-have-anything-to-do-with-it different ("we" being the personified raindrop army). So I waited as long as I could, then put my things in my backpack, reminded myself I was not the first human to get caught in a rainstorm, and blazed on home. 

There is a reason no dive bar has ever done a "wet pencil skirt contest." It's just not a good look on anyone. 

Theoretically, I should always carry an umbrella—but my backpack isn't that big. Theoretically, I
NOBODY GET WET EVER.
should always have an umbrella in my locker—but that's only good one way. Theoretically, I should at least carry an umbrella when all the warning signs point to needing an umbrella. But I didn't. 

As we so often do, we can be warned repeatedly that something (walking without an umbrella, investing in speculative markets, eating cauliflower) is a bad idea, and yet we continue to try it, convinced that maybe this time we'll get lucky. Free tip: luck is highly unlikely. 

We rarely take precaution, however, because we're opportunistic and running late and caution is expensive. So instead of
2008's Face of the Year: Shock. 
planning for the worst (business planning, investments, etc.), we're always surprised to hear that a bubble popped or geopolitical rumblings changed the price of oil, or any number of things.

The world would be exhausting if you had to plan for 100 contingencies every time you made a decision—and few of us are creative enough to anticipate all of the possible disasters waiting to greet us. Fair enough. The point is not that caution is always required; but rather that surprise at the downpour (particularly if all signs point to imminent doom) is rarely justified.

I got caught in a downpour in:
Grayish pencil skirt, semi-sheer cobalt tie-neck blouse, magenta blazer with three-quarter-length sleeves, blue glass earrings, gold and rhinestone bangles, and floral-print peep-toe stilettos.