San Franciscans love to decorate their apartments and Facebook pages with the British WWII poster that advises citizens to “Keep Calm and Carry On.” The only explanation you can make for this is that it must appeal to their sense of irony, because in actuality the San Francisco citizen’s motto is, “Stop in Your Tracks, and Freak Out About the Weather.”
In other words, Winston Churchill doesn’t live here anymore, and he never did either. If there is one thing that San Franciscans do not feel calm or ambivalent about — like, how they feel about homeless people — that thing is the weather.
Hot, cold, wet, dry or fog, it’s all equally terrifying. But there is no piece of meteorology more upsetting to the San Franciscan than the one where water falls from the sky. You’re sitting in your office, and all of a sudden you hear the tinkling sound of rain as it begins to fall lightly on the Financial District.
Your co-worker hurries up to your desk, and stares out the window behind you in the concerned manner of a helicopter mom seeing her daughter’s dorm room for the first time. “Do you think it’s raining?” she whispers, as though her eyes might be deceiving her, the rain only a hallucination, her 18-year-old not really majoring in studio arts. Please, God, not in this economy.
There’s no question more urgent for a San Franciscan than, “Have you heard anything about the rain?” Rain makes San Franciscans want to gossip about rain, and say things like, “I didn’t come here to make friends with rain,” and honestly the threat of a rainy day is the closest a San Franciscan can get to being on a reality TV show, because there is nothing that a San Franciscan wants to beat down more than a raindrop.
Many people think that San Franciscans should be used to the rain, because of a myth perpetuated by God that San Francisco has the same weather as Seattle. But the only difference worth mentioning between these vastly different cities is that in Seattle people are content to wear the North Face raincoat that has been handed down from generation to generation since time immemorial, but in San Francisco rain only reminds people that they can’t afford another pair of $100 Hunter rain boots for their daughter, whose decision to major in studio arts pretty much negates the possibility of her ever being able to support herself.
Image: Mark Lague