Periscope Depth

let’s make a fast plan and watch it burn to the ground

Figuring that I’d probably get soaked if I walked to the train during the torrential storm this past Saturday, I decided to drive to Central Square instead. I got soaked on the walk to the car and brought in a quarter-cup of water with me just getting the door open. The rain pounded my car in steady diagonal sheets, but wasn’t otherwise worse than some downpours I’ve managed on I-93 before. I was fine until I got to Beacon St.

On Beacon St, I drove into a deep puddle before I could really see what I was doing. In my defense, the car ahead of me plowed right into it first, sending up columns of water on either side, and I was following it at reasonable speed. I kept my foot light on the gas, not wanting to hydroplane, but wanting to come to a full stop even less. I couldn’t see how deep I was in the water, but it felt pretty deep. Looking to the sides, I saw cars parked alongside the road with water up to their wheel wells. A “Watch for Pedestrians” sign in the crosswalk flexed wildly on its rubber base as the water sloshed over it. As I passed it, the sign capsized and bobbed away.

I emerged on the other side, brakes groaning but engine intact. Forcing my breathing to a reasonable clip, I continued up Beacon St to Somerville. I turned onto Inman St, my usual shortcut to Central Square, and immediately plowed into another puddle. Before I could second-guess my decision, I was once again in it up to my headlights. Columns of water fountained over the roof of my car. Stopping would have stranded me. But I didn’t have a lot of options: Inman St is one-way and lined with parked cars on both sides. “Fuck fuck fuck,” I said, sloshing forward. “Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.”

I made it safely to Prospect St, grip shaking on the wheel. Halfway down the block I saw another abyss in the street. Not wanting to roll the dice a third time – even with all-wheel drive and new tires – I pulled off onto the nearest dry street and parked. Walking was only slightly safer. Water from Prospect St didn’t so much spray onto the sidewalk as slosh. Filthy tides of street water lapped onto doorsteps, soaking me up to my knees. On a better day, wading through the sopping refuse of Cambridge might have bothered me. But the whole day had taken on that adventurous tone that avoiding two major accidents confers. “FUCK!” I yelled, laughing. Then I sighed.