This morning I woke up and it was grey outside. We’ve had a lot of grey days recently, so I assume it will warm up. At my junior high (where I was today), they are doing construction and rarely open the windows. I choose light clothes, to keep from overheating, while sitting in the stuffy staffroom. Once ready, I grab my bag, slip on my flip-flops and take off for school on my bike.
I have one class over the course of the day, so I spend my day trying to book a flight home, studying Japanese and chatting with friends.
As I walk to the second year room for lunch, I realize it’s pouring and decide my best course of action is to hope it will let up before 4:30, when I get to head home.
Slowly the minutes tick by. I am working on an email when 4:30 rolls around. I say goodbye to the friends I’m chatting with and the teachers who are actually in the staffroom at that time (many are out doing things with the students).
When I get to the genkan, where we change our shoes as we come in or out, I stand there for a minute, just stare at the rain, and laugh. I’m an Oregonian, I should have known better, right? Why did I think the rain would hold off as the weather forecast said? (Probably because it didn’t come at all this weekend).
As I’m standing there, Kanayama-san, our janitor walks up and asks if I have an umbrella. I shake my head no and mention that I have no jacket either, thinking still about how I should have known better. He smiles and hands me an umbrella. I ask if it’s ok and he says it is.
As I reach my hand into the box labeled with レベッカ (Rebecca), I remember that I wore flip-flops that morning. I slowly switch my shoes, thinking of how wet I’m about to get and head outside to realize this is going to be my first-ever umbrella bike ride.
By the time I get to the bike shelter across the parking lot, I’ve avoided a few puddles and watched a few students go running to or from the building in rain suits. “They were prepared,” I think.
The bike shelter surprises me, when I arrive, because it has a good inch of water or so on the ground that I have to wade through to get to my bike. Getting a bike out with one hand on an umbrella is much more complicated than I expect, but I get the bike out with minimal water on the seat and only slightly wet toes.
As I ride across the parking lot, I realize that it’s not as hard as I thought it would have been (especially considering I was trying to text and bike ride the other day). Holding the umbrella out in the wind, so that I can still see is the most difficult part.
Very quickly, I realize that hurrying home on my bike with the wind in my face and an umbrella in hand is a bad idea and will likely cause a gaijin-bicycle scramble (gaijin = foreigner). Thinking about how crazy this is and that I’d never have attempted it at home, I spend the whole ride home laughing. I begin laughing even harder when I realize that the umbrella helped me avoid a shower that included my head, but very much didn’t prevent the rest of my body from being soaked.