How to navigate Grounds during spring rain showers

Here’s a few ways to make the trek to class a bit easier

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Josie Sydnor is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. 

Emma Klein | Cavalier Daily

Have you ever found yourself walking into class with wet hair because of a spontaneous rain shower? Stuck with wet socks for the day because you wore the wrong shoes to your first class? Realized your backpack isn’t waterproof as you pulled out your damp laptop? I’ve unfortunately experienced many rainy day mishaps, and I’d like to share my tips on surviving this year’s spring showers while braving the perilous walk to class.

I always arrive to class either 10 minutes early or late if it’s raining. This is because I walk much faster in the rain, but if I mistime it, I run into a pack of people just released from class carrying their umbrellas. Don’t worry — this excuses you from blundering into class once the lecture’s begun, plopping into the farthest possible seat from the front and whispering, “Ugh! This weather!” to your neighbor as you drip water onto their notebook — even if you were bound to be late regardless of the forecast.

Umbrella etiquette doesn’t usually cross my mind until the pointy metal prong of one swings inches away from my eyeball, which is usually as the owner tries to carry their coffee, phone and umbrella handle with only two hands. I don’t know much about how umbrellas were invented, but I’d like to know who approved the design for a device meant to be held close to eye level that also threatens the vision of those around you.  

Umbrellas are also never quite the right size — they’re too small, so either your face is misted by water, or you’ll be testing the durability of your backpack — is it waterproof or just water-resistant? They’ll also only protect the top half of your body regardless of the style, so I always end up with wet knees, from the space between the bottom of my rain jacket and my boots.

I admit that umbrellas are a necessary evil but an evil nonetheless. I honestly sometimes find them so cumbersome that I’d rather get wet than have to deal with them. So I weigh my options once I step outside and see the raindrops — but if you don’t have to wade through the sidewalks to get to class, you will soon.

The rain usually turns from a gentle mist to a torrential downpour exactly 10 minutes before the start of class, which is when every single student on Grounds is walking outside. The Corner sidewalk turns into a creek in a matter of minutes, and your typically mundane stroll becomes a fight against the downhill current to reach your class. As you trudge through the minor flash flood, I’d like to warn you against stepping on anything that is not the rough brick, such as a metal pothole or grate.  

You may find yourself wiping out like a cartoon character slipping on a banana and catching yourself with the hand that’s carrying your phone, shattering your screen. You’ll then have to explain to your father that the expensive case for your expensive phone won’t work if you slam the force of your body weight onto it via your arm. This is just a hypothetical situation, of course.  

By this point, you should use an umbrella if it’s raining that hard. But once you hit the masses of people on, say, that one side of of McCormick Road between Clark and Gilmer during a class change where the crowd is five people wide and half a mile long, umbrellas become a bit of a hazard.

It’s easy to forget that you become a foot or two wider on each side while carrying an umbrella. It’s easy to be reminded of this when someone else’s umbrella collides with yours, sending a spray of water down your side. Umbrellas knock into each other like bumper cars, and if you step too close to the street to avoid colliding with oncoming people, you risk being sprayed with an arc of water from cars or colliding with someone speeding on a scooter who was bold enough to use one during a storm.

To cut down on umbrella congestion on the street, I’d recommend doubling up with a friend headed in your same direction. Or better yet, take advantage of the situation and offer to share yours with the umbrellaless attractive person you always seem to cross paths with on the way to class. They’ll appreciate your generosity, and you’ll have a great meet-cute story.

Once you finally make it to class, make sure you wipe your feet before entering the lecture hall.  This is especially important if you’re waltzing in several minutes late, because if you have rubber-soled shoes, the lecture hall will be very much aware of your tardiness. As long as the squeaking of your boots doesn’t echo throughout the lecture hall, you can ditch your umbrella by the door and slip in the back row unnoticed.  

While daily rain storms may be a drag, hopefully my advice will lead to drier walks to class during spring showers. On the bright side, all this rain means we’re one step closer to spring. But knowing Charlottesville weather, we’ll probably get a snowstorm before the end of the month — in that case, just stay home.

Josie Sydnor is a Life Columnist at The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at life@cavalierdaily.com.

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