When It Rains

California is desperate for rain. The past several days in San Diego have been overcast, we even got a couple sprinkles. But we are long overdue for serious rainfall. And if we don’t get the rain we need in the next 6-10 weeks it’ll have a dramatic impact on life here in California. But also around the country and the cost of things manufactured and grown here will go up. 

When It Rains

bus-in-rainRain is a funny thing in San Diego. Not being native to southern California it was a shock to me that people freak out when it rains.

I was at work a few years ago and it started to rain pretty hard. I walked over to the deli to grab a cup of coffee. When I opened the door the young woman behind the counter was sobbing. I looked around and no one else was in the shop. I said, “Why are you crying?” She looked at me and said, “It’s raining! I don’t know how I’ll get home after work!” It wasn’t that her car was broken down or that there was a real problem. It’s that she’d never driven home from work in the rain and that scared her.

Rain can be a real safety hazard in a place where it doesn’t normally rain. Oil builds up on the freeways and the roads get slick during the first rainfalls of the year. So while newcomers and outsiders laugh, local drivers are smart to be cautious… even if something as normal to the rest of the country like rain… shouldn’t cause gridlock, it does.

San Diego schools have never had a snow day. Ever. (It last snowed in San Diego in December, 1967.) But some schools will cancel if it rains too hard. As a midwesterner that really annoyed me up until I took the time to think about it. Schools are constructed with the 300+ sunny days in mind. So unlike a self-contained school building you see around the country, lots of schools in California are a series of buildings with outdoor walkways acting as hallways. So when it rains really hard students get wet changing classes.

Also, lots of schools have outdoor cafeterias which maybe feature a sun shade or an overhang. So when lunch comes along and it’s raining half an inch per hour, there’s no where for students to eat. On top of that, many schools don’t have a large gymnasium because they have PE and recess outside. That makes something like a rain storm a real logistical challenge for some schools and it’s just better to cancel.

When It Rains

Every corner of the globe has things like this.

The challenge for newcomers in a community is to learn to accept these small, cultural oddities– adapt, and embrace them as something that makes it unique to live where you live.

What are cultural oddities where you live? Leave a comment and share ones you know about.






5 responses to “When It Rains”

  1. Joel Harrison Avatar

    While I was in school in northeastern Kentucky the schools would close almost immediately after seeing a single snowflake. Snow is not unusual there, so it really surprised me at first. Finally someone reminded me how almost all of the students took the bus to school and we were in the hills where once the roads started to get slick it became very dangerous for the buses.

  2. Gene Avatar

    I spent two months teaching at a school in the lakes region of Chile. It doesn’t get really cold there for long, so to save money in construction they don’t have central heat, just a little wood stove that was supposed to take the chill off located in the corner of the classroom. But, even for this guy who loves winter, if you didn’t wear a coat to class in the middle of July you were going to be cold.

  3. Katie Avatar

    When I was in elementary school, here in SD, or school was cancelled for rain days. It was because the school flooded. It wasn’t designed to accommodate any significant rainfall and several classrooms and walkways were unusable. Yay Cali!

  4. Katie Avatar


  5. ken Avatar

    When I moved to the Midwest from growing up in California I was just as shocked at self contained schools as people were to think that my school was pretty much just rows of buildings.

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