On my second or third day working in the London office, I got caught in the rain with no umbrella on my way home. I’m sure it comes as no surprise to anyone that it was raining in London. That’s what London is known for, right? Well what you don’t know (unless you live here) is how dangerous the rain really is, or should I say rain paraphernalia and the effects of the rain. Every Londoner comes fully equipped with an umbrella. It’s a staple item in women’s purses and men’s briefcases. As soon as the rain starts to fall you find yourself immediately surrounded by a sea of umbrellas, ranging in size, color and design. The human instinct to stay dry and warm also kicks in when the first drops start to fall and everyone, even the doddlers pick up their pace.
And if you find yourself umbrellaless, like I unfortunately did, the sidewalk immediately comes a battleground. A battle specifically to save your eyeballs from being poked out by the numerous umbrella spokes that you find yourself faced with, literally.
The foot traffic in central London (Oxford Street to be exact) is always busy. It quickly goes from busy to mayhem during rush hours. Add an umbrella to each head and you have a dangerous situation for all the poor people that are weaving through the crowd without one. It can easy be compared to being one of few fish in a cove stock full of sharks. Yes, people are vicious. The buses around here don’t wait, so heaven forbid you are in the path of a maniac (with a weapon) trying to catch the number 94 bus. The mania to catch the bus also picks up when it’s raining. Who wants to stand and wait for the bus when it’s pouring?
I learned quickly that having an umbrella is a must. It not only keeps me from getting soaked but also acts as a protective shield from all the other umbrellas. Last night when I was walking home it was quite windy (the rain seems to always bring the wind along, they must be best buds) and my umbrella fell inside out and, just like that, was broken not even one minute into my 20 minute walk. I didn’t care, that broken, limp umbrella stayed glued to my head the entire trip to the tube station. I was wearing a rain coat and would have stayed just as dry without the umbrella but I wasn’t about to risk my eyes walking without it.