It’s raining today in midtown Manhattan. Forgive me if you’ve already heard any of my umbrella-inspired fury on other rainy days via Twitter. Here’s this edition:
From the Wikipedia: Umbrella
Umbrellas have existed for protecting the human head from both sun and rain since at least the 5th century BCE. Some form of umbrella existed in ancient times in Europe, East Asia, South Asia, Asia Minor, Africa and the Americas. If Aboriginal Australians also developed a form of portable head-protecting canopy, the Wikipedia is not aware of it.
In early times, umbrellas were normally associated with wealth or status, and umbrellas were rarely carried by the people they were meant to protect.
This tradition is boldly maintained today by Sean “Diddy” Combs, whose umbrella man probably had to suffer through the recording of the single worst rap performance of all time on “Come With Me.”
Umbrellas, like most things not named “the Bubonic Plague,” were hard to find in the Dark Ages in Europe. According to the Wikipedia, cloaks were the most popular method of personal weather-protection in the era.
Umbrellas today principally serve both their intended purpose and a second, ancillary function: pissing me off.
Look: An umbrella is a great way to protect yourself from the elements if you get caught in the rain in some open space. But in urban centers, people should be required to have licenses to carry umbrellas.
Honestly, you wouldn’t think it should be that hard to understand that, when carrying an umbrella, you take up a lot more space than you normally do. I mean, the whole point of the umbrella is that it extends beyond your person in every direction, assuming you’re not fatter than your umbrella.
But no. People just keep walking as if they’re unencumbered by umbrellas, as though they’re occupying only their usual diameter. And umbrellas are almost always soaking wet, so when people bump into you with their umbrellas while they’re carrying an umbrella and you’re not, you get doubly soaked.
And to make matters worse, umbrellas are armed with pointy things at just about every extremity, so it’s not like those of us who are left without umbrellas, walking around avoiding umbrellas, are every diving out of the way of getting our eyes poked out by cotton balls.
If you’re carrying an umbrella, you absolutely must watch where you’re going, for the good of humanity. A good rule of thumb: If when you’re looking forward, you see only the inside of your umbrella, you’re carrying your umbrella too low.
And once your umbrella is held at an appropriate level to accommodate your vision, consider the people walking toward you on the crowded sidewalk. If the person isn’t much taller than you, a good method is to raise up your umbrella as you pass him by, avoiding his head and providing him with a brief bit of umbrella coverage, to boot.
If the person is too tall for that, then gently move your umbrella away from him. This is tricky, of course: Be aware of any other passersby that could be in your general vicinity before any umbrella adjustments.
And please: NO SUDDEN MOVEMENTS! It’s difficult enough for people coming your way or trying to pass you to predict how you’re going to be walking when you’re not carrying a pointy, three-foot wide weapon.
Good lord. Just be considerate, that’s all.
And with that, I’m off to walk to Grand Central Station in the rain, without an umbrella.