Have I ever told you about how I almost drowned in the rain?
I didn't like rich people. It was not because of my Communist upbringing. I didn't like them because, like at this time, in Colorado, nobody in a few ritzy housing developments that I visited that day wanted anything to do with me, my church or the product that I was selling. I told my fund-raising leader that that would happen, when I first caught sight of the large sprawling houses with rose-gardens and pools and a Mercedes or Porsche on every driveway. He left me there anyway.
After two and a half hours, all I could show for my hard work was one dollar. It took me half an hour to convince a guy to donate it. The weather didn't help, either. It was terribly, suffocating hot. The pavement began to boil under my feet, and, I could swear, there was a particular kind of keening sound in the air.
As I started to turn toward the place where I could be picked up, I smelled the rain. Then, the clouds boiled suddenly, where, just a minute before, the sun was blazing in a white-hot sky. The huge raindrops fell, then streams of water began to wash down the small town. I was almost at the pick-up point, when the first hail hit. There was no way I could continue walking under the pelting ice. I huddled by a big Baptist Church, covering my head with the pictures that I couldn't sell. In a few minutes a lady came out into the deluge and beckoned to me. I followed her inside. A local Bible study group was meeting at the church. Their eyes did pop out a little, when I told them that I was from the Unification Movement, but, in a spirit of Christianity, they didn't ask me to leave. I sat and listened to a Bible talk for a while (the Baptist Church had a leaky roof, which made us all laugh), then decided that I'd better brave the outside once more. Fortunately, the hail stopped, but the rain got even worse. I had to cross the street and stepped off the curb into the water that was rushing down the hill.
Just a couple of inches of water rushing in the gutter grabbed and pulled me down. In wild terror (I can't swim), I was carried for a few feet, holding the hand with the one dollar that I made above the water, until I hit a bump by the same side of the road where I started. My pictures fell out of my arms, swirled in the current and disappeared in the sewer pipe, followed by my precious dollar. In a space of two minutes, my whole reality changed. I struggled to my feet and crossed to the other side of the street, being careful not to step into the deep water. As I stood, shivering in the gray gloom (it was still an early afternoon, but it looked like late evening), a lady came out of one of those rich, rich houses and offered me to come in from the weather. She did it three times, but I couldn't risk missing my ride. This was before the cell-phones, and we were far from home. Our van passed me twice, the driver unable to see me in the darkness and the rain. On the third time, I risked coming out on the street and waved him down.
As I got into the van, my friends noticed that I didn't have any pictures anymore. Assuming that I sold out, they began to clap. And I began to cry.
E-mail for comments: email@example.com