OUR stories, Thoughts and reflections of 2017

The umbrella thief

A short story written Fall of last year. Posted in honor of the unusually high rainfall in San Francisco lately.

We woke to the unfamiliar sound of rain falling outside.

“It rains here?” I asked incredulously. It was a steady pitter-patter, not the type that keeps people indoors but persistent enough to necessitate an umbrella.

I was flying out that Sunday morning for week ahead and we headed out to grab breakfast in the quiet of the morning, as was tradition.

We eyed the under construction Peet’s across the street, presently unaware of what it portended – the opening of a brand new chain on block already home to a Blue Bottle and a juice bar and a market that sold all the organic non-GMO produce one could dream of.

That ongoing construction meant this particular morning was the first and last time we’d visit this neighborhood café, but we didn’t know that yet.

“Can we leave this by the counter?” referring to the umbrella that was now dripping from our two minute trek to the café, not wanting to trek more water inside. The cashier nodded and the umbrella was left on the ground by the counter on to fend for itself.

The bagels were bland, but the conversation was much better, as the rainfall outside served as the soundtrack to our sleepy morning.

In the midst of our conversation, I noticed an individual walk in, ducking from the rain. He walked with a bit of a limp towards the counter, tired and hunched. Right when he was supposed to order, he bent down, picked something up and straightened up to walk right back out.

What in the…”Hey!,” I shouted, in that moment realizing this was not normal behavior. Rising to get a closer look, I pointed at the stranger with a startling clarity, “He has our umbrella!”

As soon as you and the cashier turned around, and the umbrella thief suddenly took off in a sprint out the door. You rose to chase after him and the chase took part about halfway down the street.

It was maybe 9am with nearly no one walking outside, the café cashier acting as our sole witness in this bizarre morning goose chase in downtown San Francisco. His limp didn’t serve himself so well in a one-on-one speed contest and you returned soon after with the umbrella in hand. I watched the hasty exchange from afar as he returned the umbrella once confronted and sulked away without a fight.

I ran outside in the rain to meet you with an involuntary look of congrats and relief on my face. Catching our breaths, we walked back in the rain, reentering the café recovering from the mild shock and damp feeling of triumph. A shock like that can only be explained as something that is not shocking in nature but because it is utterly unexpected. The triumph

After a few moments of processing our thoughts, something occurred to me.

“Did he say anything when you took the umbrella back?” I asked, genuinely curious what a thief with such silly nerve would have to say for himself.

You nodded.

“He said: ‘I don’t want to get wet.’”

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