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Rain and shopping don't mix Richard Peña | Sat, Nov 19 2011 12:00 PM

In my doddering years my three kids, along with a bevy of others, have warned me — no, a better word is cautioned — about three things: don’t drive at night; don’t drive on the freeway and don’t drive in bad weather. 

Since those warnings seem to make good sense and since I am not too enamored about driving under any circumstances, I generally abide by those edicts. There comes a time, however, when a journey out is more than necessary so we take those chances.

Such a day was last Saturday. We were running short on some necessary household items hence a trip to the store was in order. 

The skies were overcast and there was a chance of rain but since I was just going as far as National City I took a chance. 

I got to the store with no problem, made my purchases and went out to the car. It had started to drizzle but not very hard. I got underway and then it came. It reminded me of one of those Texas Southeasters that suddenly comes on one and remains for hours. I wasn’t driving at night, I wasn’t on the freeway, but this certainly qualified as weather that was not clement.  

I, of course, took extra care, slowed to what seemed as a simple walk and eventually made it to Sweetwater Road. I came upon a pickup truck that seemed to be as cautious as me and followed him all the way home. I drove in the garage and said, “Never again.”

I have, of course, said the words “Never again” many times before and will probably utter them sometime in the future, at least, I hope I will. Driving in poor visibility is nothing new for me, or for that matter, almost anyone.  In my particular case I was inured to rough weather that included poor visibility in my navy days. 

I recall times entering San Francisco Bay when the fog was so thick it could be cut with a dull bread knife. But even in those days, so long ago, we had all sorts of aids and instruments that made the entry possible but, it was, nevertheless, harrowing.

Driving in poor visibility is something else. I have been driving for many years and I still don’t like it. One upsetting experience comes to mind. Zula and I were on one of our motor trips when we found ourselves in East Texas in the midst of one of those downpours that are only found in that state. Zula confronted me and said that if I did not stop and get a motel she was going to get out and walk. From the tone of her voice I knew this was no idle threat.

So at the next opening that promised any sort of lodging I stopped. As I recall this was an ongoing storm and we remained there for two days. The lodge also featured a restaurant that specialized in Cajun cooking. One other reason to remain.

We had another harrowing experience, this one involving the entire family while traveling east through Arizona. Instead of rain, however, this one was a snowstorm. It was in a part of the state that seldom sees snow, hence, people were not too sure how to cope with it. 

We were involved in a multi-car collision that saw vehicles sliding and side swiping each other like those bumper cars we used to see in the carnivals. We were hit and sent into a ditch but were able to recover and continue our journey. Since then my only love of snow has been on Christmas cards.

As a long time resident of the South Bay I am not going to downplay rain of any type in our area. We have seen rainy seasons in Southern California where the total could have been measured in a tea cup. We have, of course, also seen seasons where the entire region has been inundated with rain waters that had no other place to go. The latter, however, is a seldom occurrence, something that most of us can handle.

So my message to the rain god is to go ahead and let it rain. But, please, not on the day when I have to do shopping.


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