Culture

Forget Sex in the City: Master the Use of an Umbrella in the Urban Jungle

Yesterday I received three severe weather alerts on my phone. After seeing the destruction hurricane Sandy brought to the northeast and how the tornados have deeply impacted the Midwest, I take those severe weather alerts seriously.  There were flash flood warnings for parts of New York; mostly Westchester county. But sure enough as I looked out my window staring at the Empire State building the rain was surely coming down hard. I love jumping in rain puddles. It reminds me of my college days. You thought I was going to say childhood, eh? But while I love a summer rainstorm, in theory, sometimes it is a bit maddening in the urban jungle.

Have you noticed that on a rainy day in New York City, there is a certain segment of the population that feels it is necessary to carry an extremely large umbrella? What are those called: Tent umbrellas? Golf umbrellas? Annoying-as-hell umbrellas? Such an act and such a person infuriates me enormously. New York City is fast paced. I think everyone gets that. You speedwalk while eating a three course meal as you chair a teleconference. With all your cognitive abilities so mired in rapid navigation and discussions, why do we have to also bob and weave around these tent umbrellas?  Using a golf umbrella on the streets of Manhattan, is somewhat obnoxious.  Umbrellas should serve to cover you and protect the immediate space around your body. When you carry a tent umbrella you have moved beyond your immediate space.  What justifies that? Of course, in ancient times umbrellas were more used as parasols to protect against the sun and in Greece the parasol was a fashion statement noting its carrier as a lady of fashion.  Nowadays everyone uses an umbrella. But in New York City we have limited space and many people who believe they are high-powered (and many are) and it should be noted. How many men in three piece suits do you see walking around in New York with these golf umbrellas that oftentimes have their company’s logo on it.   Ok, so you work for AIG and earn more than 100k but your company still needed a US taxpayer bail-out. Decrease that umbrella size or expect some looks, grunts and possible weird karma bounceback.

The beauty of New York City, if it looks like rain is coming, tons of street entrepreneurs are out there selling you umbrellas at $5 a pop.  You spend more on your venti latte. What is more annoying than a person with a golf umbrella is someone with said umbrella taking up the space under an awning and pushing the unfortunate person with no umbrella out into the rain. That is so not cool.

But let’s go back to who it is that carries this large umbrella. It can be meant as some sign of power. It can be taken as a sign of being consumed with self-protection. Did you see a week back when Obama was speaking and a marine was holding up an umbrella to cover him as it was raining? Then Sarah Palin tweeted that most Americans carry their own umbrella.  But lo and behold a photo appeared thereafter in which Sarah Palin had an umbrella holder while she walked off a private jet. Oops. I guess she is not like most Americans.

Umbrellas: Use them wisely. How you do, says a lot about you.  For instance, carrying a Spiderman umbrella probably says you want to be a hero -but I will explore that hero identification further later on.  If you are carrying one of those large umbrellas offer part of that space to that individual that spaced out during the weather report that morning and forgot to bring an umbrella. Such a sign of good will can go very far.

Now that it’s raining more than ever
Know that we’ll still have each other
You can stand under my umbrella -Rihanna

4 replies »

  1. Living in Vancouver – where it rains a lot – might I say umbrella etiquette in my corner of the world is second nature. That damn fool with the obnoxious umbrella – 9 times out of 10 is the same damn fool who puts rain boots on their miniature poodle. Definitely not cool 🙂

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  2. Remember the lost art of umbrella raising when passing people on the sidewalk in order to avoid eye pokes and shearing the side of one’s face? It’s always the people with the vented golf umbrellas who are the worst perpetrators, plowing through as if you were invisible.

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