A basic tenet of guiding is that, with a few exceptions, if the client wishes to venture forth, we do.
Many is the day I have looked outside from my glassed-in porch and breathed a sigh of relief that I was not “out there in that.”
Friday was not, unfortunately, one of those days.
In eight years this may be the first time I was out seeing the sights during a simultaneous severe thunderstorm warning and a flash flood watch.
Not that I am proud of it.
The icing on the cake was that it was 8:15 in the morning, hardly a fit time to be out at all.
Ever the optimist, I searched for the bright side and it was the absence of crowds as anyone with an iota of sense was indoors; at the Vietnam Wall it was truly just the past and our presence.
The thunderstorm warning was a washout but the lowering sky let forth a deluge in its place.
By the way, today’s client was a class of 36 fifth-graders and their intrepid chaperones.
No more than ten students had umbrellas and a few more than that had any rain gear at all.
But guiding has hardened my soul to the sight of dripping, wet kids.
Last week I was at Arlington Cemetery in a similar downpour at the Changing of the Guard when I observed a young fellow from my group who was soaking wet; I was nearly ready to share my umbrella when I also noticed that he had a jacket with a hoodie which he was not even using.
He stayed wet and I stayed (relatively) dry.
As we were at the Lincoln Memorial we watched the Washington Monument slowly disappear in a band of rain so heavy that aircraft on final approach to Reagan accelerated loudly as they executed go-arounds, one after the other.
Over the course of twelve hours with our fifth graders the weather slowly improved and the walk through the Cemetery was superb though the group wasn’t slow, they were glacial.
I told someone at one point that if we were all standing together and I walked 50 feet and turned around that they would somehow be 100 feet away.
Did they walk in the other direction?
After dinner, and in our 11th hour with the kids, we took 123 of them to the Jefferson Memorial at the same time.
They may have been exhausted but they were now fueled by their after-dinner Starbucks five-dollar frappo-lattes.
Up in the rotunda with them I felt a bit like a prison guard overlooking a riot in the exercise yard.
I stood back against the wall, out of the way, and felt sorry, briefly, for the other visitors and their unfortunate timing.
Then, it was back on the bus and home-sweet-home at last.