Last Saturday at 5 pm a grey cloud blocked out the sun over the 5000 block of N. Figueroa Street in Los Angeles and a light rain began to fall. Within a few minutes it had turned into a downpour and it started to hail too. My daughter said “Let’s go into that grocery store—let’s run!” and as we ran through the storm a young man in a fluorescent vest who was gathering up grocery carts called out “There are pieces of ice falling from the sky!” It was cold in the store—a combination of air-conditioning and damp clothes—and we buttoned up our light cotton sweaters. My daughter didn’t have her cell phone with her so we used the store phone to call my daughter’s boyfriend (twice) to get him to drive over and get us, but there was no answer.
Home was only four blocks away so we screwed up our courage and plunged back outside. We ran along the sidewalk for a couple of blocks and when we crossed Figueroa lightning went off right over our heads. The hail/rain poured down and at every curb we had to run through a swirling puddle of cold dirty water that soaked us up to our ankles (the drainage in L.A. is lousy). My daughter couldn’t see anything because her glasses were fogged up so I grabbed her arm when we had to cross a street and when I looked up to the sky for a moment the hail hurt my cheeks. At my daughter’s house we ran through the front door and stood in the livingroom, freezing, bedraggled and dripping all over the floor. When the boyfriend heard us he came out of his office where he had been working on some storyboards and he admitted that he hadn’t recognized the number so he hadn’t picked up the phone.