07 February, 2007

Umbrella etiquette?

It's been raining frequently in Castellon and since this is thee first city I have lived in without access to vehicle, I am using an umbrella for the first time. This is something I am not really familiar with, I mean, I understand the logistics of opening one and putting it over my head and then walking, but there is actually more to consider. IN the past, I have run from my house with a jacket, towel or notebook over my head into my vehicle, and then repeat the same scenario by rushing into my destination..no umbrella necessary...

Here, an umbrella is a necessity as I walk all over this town and as I was walking the other day with my little "travel umbrella" (that I had found in our flat), I realized that I would have to get serious about this rain issue. When my crappy umbrella flipped up for the 4th time, I roughly grabbed it and bent it back into it's proper shape and then I heard 2 popping sounds as two of the cheap little metal pins broke. I then had to finish the day with an umbrella that was broken on one side and had 2 metal braces poking out from the cloth. Needless to say, I wasn't thrilled with the whole idea, nor did I appreciate the smirks from people passing by.

When I arrived at work, the receptionist looked at my umbrella and said "Melinda, you need a better one" and then promptly gave me one that someone had left at the academy. I looked at this nice umbrella with awe and couldn't wait to try it. After my class I started out in the rain with my new umbrella in hand. I felt so liberated not having to baby my umbrella. It stayed strong in the gusts of wind and kept my backpack dry as well. The one thing that I had to learn was what to do when I was confronted with people walking towards me on the small sidewalk. They have an umbrella too and something's gotta give. Some people pretend no one is walking towards them with an outstretched umbrella and your umbrella's bump, some tilt theirs one way or another and yet others try to move to the far end of the sidewalk when possible.

I have figured out my personal preference in these situations. As a vast majority of Spanish people are relatively short, especially anyone over the age of 60, I raise my umbrella up thus clearing their umbrella. This procedure works the best for me since I am at least a head taller than most and it seems to cause the least stress for all involved. As I move forward, I start to raise the umbrella and the unsuspecting pedestrian does not have to do anything. done, mission accomplished with relatively little effort on my part.

As I look out the window today at the fine rain, I glance at my Umbrella and smile thinking of the new adventures that await us...

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