It's not paranoia

A week ago last Friday we got a drenching of sorely needed rain that was weeks overdue. The evening before I helped my wife plant our sunflower shoots, and the normally rich dirt was dusty and powdery, reminiscent of a desert. Grass has been so brown the yards look like August landscapes, so I was glad to see the rain. But as usual, the rain hit hardest when I drove on the expressway during my daily work trip to Alliance. This was to be expected, of course, because the rain was simply conforming to the Rain Act of 1990 and was not in the least to blame.
The Rain Act was passed when I worked in Akron and stipulates that the hardest rain falls during morning and afternoon rush hours. It can be blazing hot all day while I’m at work, but get on the freeway and, as if on cue, the sky opens up, pelting all those sorry drivers with every bit of rain it’s held back for oh too long. So I’m stuck in heavy traffic, hunched forward, squinting through my windshield with wipers on high, glad for the rain but wishing I were at home enjoying it. (I love rain showers in warm weather.)
That was the case Friday last week. I left the Sheriff’s Office, which is where I begin my work day, and within minutes the gully washer launched its assault on my Escort, forcing me to turn my wipers on high and hunch forward, peering through a windshield soaked with as much water as if it had been aquarium glass. And guess when the rain let up: less than a mile before I exited the expressway, and as I drove through town to The Review a pleasant, light rain fell, the kind conducive to lovers and Labradors cavorting.
One time when driving home from Akron the rain fell so blindingly I got off at the Waterloo Road exit, only a few miles south of where I entered the expressway, and pulled in the Giant Eagle parking lot to wait out the storm. When the rain diminished I went in GE to get a drink and soaked my shoes and socks wading through ankle-deep water that couldn’t flow down the storm sewer grate fast enough. Such is the nature of rush-hour cloudbursts.
The Rain Act is a subsection of the Precipitation Act of 1990, which also includes The Snow Act. That cold-weather companion to the Rain Act stipulates that the heaviest snow falls one hour before morning and evening rush hours, thus giving the snow plenty of time to accumulate on roads and hamper traffic. I’ll never forget the time I drove down the steep hill behind the Akron office descending into the Little Cuyahoga River valley on my way to the Route 8 expressway and my car slid and hit the curb. But it was better than hitting another car, and my car was undamaged. Rush hour snowfall always slackens about the time I get home, and the road crews catch up with the sudden, unexpected ankle-deep crown of snow once everyone is safe at home.
These acts contain within them a flexibility clause that allows heaviest precipitation times to change according to when I’m driving to and from work. This became apparent when I began working odd shifts at The Review and I still got caught in the heaviest rain of the day or drove in the worst snow on the least plowed roads of the day. This may sound like paranoia, but it’s just the facts.
A related law that proves I’m not paranoid is the Neighborhood Noise Edict of 1992. I first became aware of this piece of annoying legislation when I foolishly tried to practice music outdoors. It began with airplanes. When I took my mountain dulcimer outside to play, invariably an airplane would fly over, and it didn’t just pass by, it flew in circles. The mountain dulcimer is possibly the quietest string instrument on the planet, so the slightest noise of an overhead engine ruins my playing. I think it was one of those law enforcement planes hunting for marijuana crops hidden in nearby cornfields, which by now have mostly been replaced by bland-colored houses. But that doesn’t diminish the noise or negate the act, which covers all air-polluting noisemakers, not just those in the sky, and the minute I step outside to read with my goat (I quit trying to play outdoors long ago) a neighbor will start to a) cut his lawn, b) rototill his garden or c) blow grass off his driveway with one of those silly leaf blowers that takes longer to do the job than does a simple broom and that can be heard from a distance of two or three blocks. The best way to make the noise stop? Close my book in frustration, put my goat back in his stall and retreat to the house.
This, of course, sounds like I’m paranoid, but it happens too often to be mere coincidence, as it did last Friday. More rain fell after I arrived at The Review, but I’m sure it wasn’t as heavy as that I drove through. As I write, the sky is calm, as if it’s hoarding its rain for my drive home, and it will know that I’m leaving early today. As the saying goes, “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.”

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