It’s pouring rain, and the GUTS bus isn’t anywhere in sight. Looking at the girl beside you, you notice that she forgot her umbrella. You aren’t in any better shape, so you hand her half of the Washington Post that you were reading. It’s better than nothing, and you both try to keep somewhat dry with the Metro and Style sections overhead. It’s an inconvenience, to be sure, but one that we can all understand: in the year 2003, nature is still kicking us in the teeth, and the best we can do is improvise.

We take the weather seriously, and we should. Hurricane Izzy (I think we can all call her that now; Isabel just seems too formal having lived with her for a few days) gave us some graphic reminders of just how brutal an “act of God” can be. But there were also some moments of human bonding, a few bursts of “we’re all in this together.” That got me to thinking.

“Nice day we’re having, isn’t it?” It’s a cliche, bringing up the weather. It’s the archetypal water cooler conversation, but just wonder how many friendships have been forged beginning with that simple, throwaway question. We bask in the beauty of a good day, telling friends (or anyone who will listen) what we’re going to do, how we’re going to take advantage of it, for it is, after all, fleeting. In Washington, at least lately, it seems like the mucky days are the norm, all too rarely interspersed with gorgeous, do-they-take-attendance-because-I’m-skipping days.

And then, ah yes, the mucky days! Standing in the doorway of Leo’s, you look at the guy next to you, and know you’re both thinking the same thing: should’ve brought the umbrella, and no matter how fast you run, you’ll still be drenched by the time you get to Copley. You share a knowing grin.

When I was a little Adam, these were the weather events I loved most. My mom, dad, brothers and I would make cups of beef barley soup, sit next to the bay window in our living room, cover ourselves with the thick quilts and give running commentary on the squall as we sipped our warm soup. Storms, as much as they might pain us if we’re in them, can be sources of absolute comfort if we’re not. Why do you think a strong rain is the best sleeping weather known to man?

But back to the “knowing grin” part. In a time when there is so much that separates us from one another, when we are constantly creating labels to specifically identify uniqueness, it’s good to remember that we’re all in this together. How many times do we talk to strangers about the weather, volunteering a “you better bring a jacket, it’s cold today” to the guy down the hall? In lieu of parents, we as humans tend to watch out for each other, and sometimes, it takes an act of unforeseen tragedy to bring people out of their shells and into the lives of others. There will be countless stories of such camaraderie as a result of Izzy. It brings out the best of human nature, and we often only see it when the sky is at its most bleak and pitch.

These are acts that we really can’t control; for, try as we might, prepare as we do, we can’t reschedule nature. This is something out of our hands, and we are not a people comfortable in such a submissive position. Turn on CNN or Fox and you’ll see that we like being in charge, knowing where the Dow stands, the state of Ben and J-Lo (and any other important news) and who’s on “Larry King” or “Hannity and Colmes” that night.

Before Izzy, we were bombarded with the life story of retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark, the fall of former NYSE Chairperson Richard Grasso and another twist in the quagmire that is . the California recall election (you didn’t think I was going to say Iraq, did you?). It took a jolt of something out of left field to clear the decks of that trifle – albeit just so we can start adding new trifle, or at least, for a few days, substance-based trifle.

Put simply, we need the recalibration that only nature can provide. Something as benign as the weather can put us through the gamut of human emotions. It gives us a break from our self-crafted realities, pulling us from our daily lives into something that doesn’t quite fit into our schedules.

And so, we do the best we can – indeed, we improvise. It makes us humble, it keeps us sane and it draws us together. For, on those beef barley kind of days, there’s nothing better than being next to someone in the same boat, even if it is taking on water.

Adam Jones is a senior in the College and can be reached at Point of Order appears every other Friday.

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