Blighters On The Storm

portland-rainIt started like any typical horror story should. “Nordstrom.”

I screamed.

Our friend had driven in to the big city from our former hometown for a quick visit. It turned out to be the rainiest weekend since we moved to Portland, Oregon.


That word is Norwegian, I think, for “mythical beast with huge nords that consumes souls.”

And they wanted to shop at the one that lives in the heart of downtown, by Pioneer Square, where everything happens.

It was a rainy day. I figured at least there was at least a chance the city wouldn’t be nuts.

I was wrong.

It was a Sunday. We rolled up on downtown. Rain was a deluge. And the people were as thick as thieves. The most I’d ever seen. There were no parking spots. Pedestrians walked when the signals said “walk” and then redoubled their efforts when they said “don’t walk.” It took about 45 minutes to drive 10 feet.

We decided the best plan was for the girls to jump out of the car as I drove by Nordstrom. I would go find a parking spot and catch up with them later.

The nearest parking spot I found was something like 10 blocks away. Rather than trekking back to join the girls I decided to explore the city instead. I thought I’d chill out in a café and write brainless tweets but apparently I had discovered the only part of the city completely devoid of them. Plan two was at least find a place to go pee. I found many signs that said “no public restrooms.”

It was about this time I began to consider what a citation for public urination would look like on my official record.

I was now about 30 minutes away from the car. That’s when the heavens opened and I was dipped like a drowned rat in a downpour. I was soaked down to my underwear in seconds. (Not an uncommon occurrence.) A man rushed by wearing a shirt and tie. We gave each other a goofy grin, two ships passing in the night, a wee tether of a human connection. I hope he made it.

Ahead I saw a ginormous church. Perhaps they’d let a weary travel in for a spell? Alas, church was open complete with a bouncer and there was some sort of official event underway. Funeral or wedding, I couldn’t tell. I didn’t feel I should stand there. Around the corner was a recessed archway with large doors. I ducked up the steps to wait out the storm.

Within seconds a harried couple approached. “Is this the way in the church?” they asked.

“I don’t know.”

The man wailed on the doors but they wouldn’t budge.

“I think it’s around the corner,” I said.

Now I was the official gatekeeper for a church. People would rush up the sidewalk and approach me for assistance. I directed them all around the corner. I couldn’t help but wonder how the church felt about sheltering an atheist.

Finally the rain let up and I made it back to the car. I never did find a place to pee. I threw my coat in the back and picked up the girls. A pair of shoes had been secured, but only after multiple encounters with rude and inept salespeople.


Our friend headed back home and my wife and I settled in for the evening. The rain was really coming down and the wind was roaring.

“You want to eat now or later?” I asked my wife.

“I want to eat at seven.” I checked my watch. It was 6:30.

“Well, I’m eating now.” I microwaved a plate of leftover Chinese until steaming hot and then popped down in my comfy chair to eat.


There went the power.

“Good thing you waited,” I yelled. “Hot food for me, cold food for you. Ha ha ha!” I’m nothing if not mature.

My wife lit candles and I grabbed the portable bluetooth sound system and fired up romantic music from the iPad. She made herself a turkey sandwich.

Outside the world was pitch black. There were no lights visible in any direction. The wind was howling, the house was shaking, the rain was pounding sideways on our windows, and there were loud bumps as things hit the house. Our brave cats were freaked and hid themselves away.

I’m just lucky, I guess, but I’ve never been hit by an outage that lasted more than a few moments. That’s something that always happened to other people. But not this time. We played Yahtzee in the dark, I made white russians, and I scarfed down all the ice cream I could under the guise, “I don’t want it to melt.”

We also lost a couple more branches on our fig tree. Luckily there are no trees near enough or big enough to crush our home.

The news is now saying that this is the rainiest September of all time. Seems like we’ve been setting records ever since we got here. Gimme a participant ribbon.

Today we rebuild and start our new life.

6 responses

  1. You’ve never had the power out for more than a few moments??! That’s lucky. We had it out for 6 days during the summer of 2006. If there were a more miserable 6 days I’ve ever spent in my life, it was before I’m able to remember.


    1. I guess that’s where I burn through all of my luck. I can’t remember an outage lasting more than a few seconds, at least before last night, and that was only a few hours.

      Six days would suck.

      On the other hand, I have had fast, repeated power burps fry my computers pretty good. Even with a surge protector. Apparently computers don’t like the power being flipped on and off as fast as possible.


  2. But doesn’t Nordstrom usually have live piano players in the store to… to… to make you feel like you’re fancy and can spend “fancy people” amounts of money?

    A couple of years ago, SD had a HUGE blackout. Like all 2 million of us in the county. And it lasted > 12 hours. It was a lovely night actually — after we both made it home through the rapidly degenerating into Mad-Max-like streets. We sat out back and looked at all the places that would have had lights and thought about how it might have looked like that a century ago.


    1. I don’t think I’ve ever set foot in Nordstrom. Is there an achievement badge for that? Because I’m proud of it!

      There was a fancy store in the Fashion Valley mall I went one time because my girlfriend at the time wanted a specific perfume. I felt like an alien in there.

      No, my wife went in the Nordstrom and I did the driving. And that is the proper way of things.

      And I did enjoy the non-electronic night with my wife. It was fun. Candles, flashlights, ice cream, and really damn hard to see Yahtzee.


  3. I lived through Hurricane Juan. The first store to get power back was the wine store next to our condo. Maybe there is a god. *grin*

    Now I know what to get you for Christmas. Rubber pants.


    1. An entire city and no place to pee. Why should anyone give a shit about someone else’s bodily functions?

      Chillin’ at the wine store after a storm. That sounds awesome.

      One time my wife and I went to dinner at our favorite Thai place. It was stormy out. We ordered and watched the lightning. We were the only ones there. Then the power went out. The owner came out, locked the door, put candles on the table, and brought us our food which luckily got done just in time. It was a wonderful evening. We felt like everything had been orchestrated just for us.


Bringeth forth thy pith and vinegar

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: