Rainy days are simply a fact in life, and, in a city such as New York or Chicago (where people tend to walk more than they drive) umbrellas are a necessary part of life; but, let’s face it, not everyone has consideration for the next person and many end up poking and annoying others as they walk along. So how do you properly use your umbrella and not be a sidewalk hog?
Start with the umbrella itself. Unless you’re a doorman, an over-sized golf umbrella for one person is absolutely unnecessary and it is more of a nuisance than any other type of umbrella so leave that one home and grab an umbrella that is smaller, and, preferably one that folds down to a very small (purse) size when it is closed. And don’t try to impress people with your designer label umbrella, it is far more important to have an umbrella that works over one that is “pretty” or has a brand logo or name all over it.
Opening and closing your umbrella might seem like common sense, but, you’d be surprised how many people rudely stop and open or close their device without any consideration for the people around them.
- Your Grandmother’s old fashion rule of never opening an umbrella inside is true! No, not about it being bad luck, but, rather being bad etiquette. Always open and close umbrellas outside.
- When you are opening and closing your umbrella, pull over to the side, out of walking paths and doorways so you do not obstruct free movement in and out of the building. It’s a matter of etiquette. Anything else is selfish and rude.
Walking with your umbrella up also deserves a bit of a attention. Many people just walk straight with their umbrella held vertical as they proceed on a sidewalk. This is wrong because more times than not holding your umbrella in this manner will cause your umbrella to hit or catch on another umbrella, and, sometimes you come dangerously close to poking someone in the eye. The proper thing to do is tilt your umbrella enough to avoid banging into others but still keeping yourself dry. Generally speaking, if you are walking on the right side and someone passes you on the left, tilt your umbrella to the right; and, if you are on the left side and someone passes you on the right, tilt your umbrella to the left.
What do you do with a wet umbrella? One of the most common mistakes people make when it comes to umbrella use is what to do with it when you reached your destination and it is soaking wet. It is ok to “shake it” only when you are outside, never do this indoors, not even in a vestibule. Considerate buildings and stores often have umbrella bags as you come inside the door. If one is available do take it and place your wet umbrella inside. Problem solved. If, however, there is no umbrella bag, you should utilize the cover that came with your umbrella. (You know the cover that is probably sitting on your closet shelf or in the trunk of your car because you never use it. Guess what? This is what the cover was designed to do! It was designed to cover your wet umbrella as well as protect it when not in use.)
The umbrella stand. Placing your umbrella in a public umbrella stand is always risky. People put their umbrellas in these stands in good faith coming in and can’t find their umbrella when it is time to go home because someone else has walked off with it. And, it isn’t that people are intentionally looking to steal your more expensive umbrella, it’s just most umbrellas look very similar and it can be hard to distinguish, especially in bad lighting. The best advice is to use them at your own risk.
Taking your umbrella into a restaurant or your desk at the office. If you decide to take your umbrella with you instead of placing it in a stand or checking it in a coat room, keep it out of the way so no one trips or slips from the wet drippings it may cause on the floor. Umbrellas always go on the floor and never on a table or desk or seat.
You are now armed with the knowledge of proper umbrella etiquette. It’s now up to you to put the rules to use!