This is a true story.
I was visiting for the first time America's most underrated great city - Phoenix, Arizona. It was a hot late cloudless spring day, about 115 degrees F, but very dry, so bearable ("But it's a dry heat" turns out to be a very legitimate rejoinder).
I was walking the clean, pleasant
downtown streets, marvelling at how truly underrated the city was. Every kindly Phoenician I saw was dressed in the southern Arizona uniform - shorts and a T-shirt. That's all. No bags, no briefcases - unencumbered.
Within the span of about forty-four seconds, the sky suddenly turned black as night, overcast with heavy black clouds. Then, like God had a big bucket full of water and turned it upside-down, a torrent of rain burst out upon me and my colleague, and we became soaked in our shorts and t-shirts. It was still warm, so it wasn't so bad.
But I looked up from my soaking, and I was stunned - everyone I saw had an umbrella.
What? Where did they get them? No one was carrying umbrellas five minutes ago.
Then, after about six minutes of this heavy thick, visibility-zero rain, it suddenly stopped. Literally, less than a minute later, the sky was blue, the streets and people were dry, and the sun was shining hot once again.
Most extraordinarily, no one had an umbrella! I mean, not a single person. Where did they go?
I thought, maybe, when you are a native Phoenician, you know that wherever you are when the monsoon hits, you can duck into the nearest bar, shop or kindergarten and grab yourself a community umbrella. When it stops, you just put it back wherever you happen to be.
I looked it up - it turns out, no such program exists in our most underrated city.
However, I think it would be a very worthy program to implement.
This idea is to do that. The city will purchase thousands of umbrellas, each with the city seal emblazoned across its dome. If you are caught in a storm, just duck into the nearest store and get one, free of charge. Return it wherever you like when it's over, and stay dry.
A few details:
- Anyone caught carrying a city umbrella in dry weather is subject to citation for misdemeanor unlawful possession of city property, to minimize the miser factor.
- Before expected rainstorms, city employees will traverse the downtown shops and verify even distributions.
- Paid for by a slight sales tax increase that would not even approach the cost of buying a new umbrella every time you lose your last one, which for most of us is after every rainfall.
Oh, and if you get the chance, visit Phoenix some day. Great weather, fine people, clean and orderly downtown, all the amenities - did I mention it's a very underrated city?