Is it just me or has it been raining a lot lately? I’m finding it hard to remember the last day when it was sunny and dry? Fall is here and gone are the days when you could leisurely lounge on the grass between classes without out fear of soaking your pants on the perpetually damp ground.
With such unpredictable weather, I’ve got into the habit of bringing my umbrella with me each day. I need to tell you that my umbrella is huge. When I purchased it I wanted an umbrella that would keep my whole person dry. I didn’t want one of those micro umbrellas that you can fit into your back pocket and only covers your head and part of your shoulders, leaving your back pack as the recipient of a small waterfall off the backside of the umbrella. I wanted a substantial cover from the rain. I can comfortably fit myself and another adult or two small children under my umbrella.
Here’s the problem, although mine is the luxury sedan of umbrellas, I have trouble manoeuvring around the busy sidewalks of campus when my umbrella is fully deployed. Is there such a thing as umbrella etiquette and if so am I ignoring all the rules?
I decided to find out. I asked a few friends on campus and they were at a loss, just as I am on the proper protocol of umbrella etiquette. In my search, I discovered a few tips on how to properly avoid social flubs when walking with an umbrella.
Let me pre-empt this by saying that I have unfortunately poked an innumerable amount of people with my umbrella over the past few years. I find that street crossings are the most dangerous place to be with an umbrella. As everyone crowds into a horizontal space that is only inches wider than the span of my umbrella, it is nearly impossible not to catch a few pedestrians in the side of the head. I try to raise my umbrella when people are walking by me, but I’m not very tall and this inevitably leads to me poking someone’s ear or getting my umbrella caught in their hair. I know I can improve my improper umbrella etiquette. Here are a few tips I’m going to actively employ the next time I’m out with my umbrella:
1. When approaching a crowd of people or crossing at an intersection, raise your umbrella high enough so that you don’t poke people in the head. If there are people with umbrellas approaching you, then it is the duty of the tallest person wielding an umbrella to raise theirs.
2. Close and shake off your umbrella before entering a building. Trying to do this as you enter a building blocks the door and causes those waiting behind you, who don’t have umbrellas, to get more wet while they wait for you to move.
3. If you have an umbrella, don’t hang out under overhangs. Let the people who don’t have umbrellas have this dry space.
4. Don’t hold your umbrella so low that you cut off your peripheral vision. This can cause pedestrian collisions and embarrassing gaffes.
5. This is the final and most important tip. If you have an umbrella, make sure it doesn’t have sharp exposed points. If it does, throw it out and buy a new one.
I am an admitted offender of all the rules of umbrella etiquette. I am that person who bumps into people, pokes them in the head and blocks the door. I am coming to terms with my problem and I’m working on it. Just the other day I managed to cross St. George in a sea of umbrellas and I’m happy to say I didn’t impale anyone.
ps…The good deed project is on track. So far I have completed at least one good deed per day (I invited someone under my huge umbrella the other day and they were pleased to get out of the rain). I have yet to notice any physical effects of my do-gooding, but I do feel like a little bit better of a person.