In the Rain

By Ronald Cypress

My father was a man with strange habits, and one of the things he liked to do was drive around when it was raining and observe people. This was something he introduced me to when I was about six years old. He usually took me by the same places to watch the same people. I still don’t know why he enjoyed it so much or if he enjoyed it all, but watching people get caught in the rain seemed to be one of his favorite things to do.

The first person I can remember seeing in the rain was the old woman who hung around the library. She was usually on the side of the building, dressed in what appeared to be several layers of shabby clothing. If I asked a cartoonist to just draw a picture of an elderly homeless woman, I imagine that it would likely resemble her. She looked like a typical vagrant, but I never found out if she was actually homeless. One time, I asked my dad about her living status when we were watching her, but he never answered me.

One of the first things I noticed about the old woman was that she was someone who remained calm while the rain was coming down on her. I would always see people rushing around in the rain, trying to find shelter. Safe inside my father’s car, I would sometimes feel bad for these people, and sometimes I would be amused. The old woman baffled me because she didn’t try to escape from the rain. She just stood in her usual spot and allowed herself to get drenched. My young mind must have told me that she didn’t have anywhere she could go. I remember wanting to cry at one point because of the old woman’s situation.

My father assured me that the old woman wasn’t stuck in the rain but chose to be there. I couldn’t understand that, and I didn’t really believe him at first. Then he showed me that some people do enjoy being in the rain. He took me to the park where we saw a couple of guys running in the rain. They weren’t running towards shelter but were just running as if they were exercising. They both appeared to be going as fast as they could, their legs pumping hard as they showed no signs of being disturbed by the rain.

After that we went to see the laughing man who was standing in an empty parking lot. My father told me to watch the laughing man carefully as he drove circles around him. The rain was coming down hard when I first saw him. It was the type of rain that any normal person would try to avoid, but there in the middle of the mostly empty parking lot was the laughing man, looking up at the sky and exuberantly laughing. I asked my father what was wrong with the man, and he said that nothing was wrong with him. He was just getting pleasure out simplicity.

Many times my father and I would go out before it started raining and wait for the rain to come down. We usually went to a fairly busy part of the city and just waited in the car. Most of the time the people going by us would be calm until the rain started to come down. If the rain started slow, then the change in people’s walking paces were more noticeable, as their walking speed gradually increased with the rainfall. My father didn’t say much as we were watching the people. Sometimes he would make a quasi-grunting noise to get my attention and then nod towards a person he wanted me to see.

Through the years I had with him, my father and I observed hundreds of people during rainfall. We saw just about every type of person in the rain. The ones that really stuck out to me were the people who seemed to choose being in the rain over shelter. Personally, I’ve always been one to head for cover when the rain starts coming down, but I have seen and have some understanding of the other side. I know that one isn’t necessarily crazy just because they freely stand in the rain.

After my father took his own life, I continued his habit for a few years. I was seventeen when he left us, and by that time I had my own car to drive out in the rain. Of course, it wasn’t the same, and I soon gave up the notion that I still had a genuine interest to go out when it was raining and watch people. I guess I just outgrew it. It wasn’t special anymore. It was just another routine part of life, people being in the rain.