Posts Tagged ‘Umbrellas


Drip, Drip, Drop

Sometimes I prefer to be rained on than to use an umbrella.


Feel it on My Fingertips. Hear it on my Window Pane.

For some rainstorms, umbrellas just don’t matter.

I am shivering in my air conditioned office now, while my pants hang immodestly over my office door and my socks hang over the doorknob. They’re nearly dry, but not completely. My shoes are another matter. Since removing them with a satisfying shlurrp! and far more effort than I am used to, I’ve set them on the floor to air out a bit. They may never be dry again.

This morning when I exited the F train, people were huddled at the foot of the steps that lead from the station out to the surface. Between the time I had entered the train in Queens and exited on the Lower East Side, the skies had opened up and let loose a torrent. I decided that I would walk the five blocks to my office rather than wait out the worst of the downpour. Who knew how long that wait might be? And I was already 10 minutes late for work.

My umbrella was strong, and it withheld the rain pretty well for about half a block. Then I realized my error. It wasn’t just the water coming down, but also the water that had already fallen. Some of the curbs were banking very high, very dramatically moving rivers, as the sudden flood rushed to the nearest sewage drains. I couldn’t even leap over some of them, so my shoes were drenched in short order.

The back of my pants from the knees down were soon soaked through. My socks were like cold rags. And my umbrella was beginning to sag under the pressure of so many gallons per second.

But my hair was still cute.

I was thrilled with the suddenly cooler temperature. This cloudburst represented a major victory against my arch nemesis, the high humidity we’ve seen in recent days. Usually it reduces me to a sweaty mess because nothing evaporates on some of the worst mornings. Today I was even wetter for a different reason, but at least I wasn’t boiling over from the heat.

What choice do we pedestrians have but to get wet when it rains? Should I stop and wait under and awning? Why delay the inevitable? I’m already soaked. Should I walk faster? or run the rest of the way? If so, I’d only splash myself from underneath and probably slip in these tractionless shoes anyway. Wet as I was, it made little sense to do anything but push onward. I was laughing for much of the way, it was so ridiculous and futile.

As the intensity surged up and down at intervals, I toyed with the idea of folding up my umbrella and, Lear-like, face the tempest as a simple man against nature. Sometimes the wind would pick up and send the rain sideways. What was the point of fighting this storm? My head and some portion of my shoulders were relatively dry. But little else.

Thank god my bag stayed dry. I love my sporty WNYC tote! When I got to work, I locked my office door behind me and changed into the post-gym clothes I brought with me. I feel like a fool wearing shorts and sneakers at work, but today I’d rather be dry than appropriately dressed.


New York Lesson No. 328: Umbrella Graveyard

As cold weather siezes us by the short and curlies, I begin to see more and more the signs of winter. I have lost count of the number of single gloves I have found littering the sidewalks and subway platforms of New York. Makes me sad, really. Sometimes I see a complete pair left behind by a passeger in a hurry or a distracted mom or a fussy child. But when I see one glove, it reminds me of when I lose one glove. It’s an incomplete loss; I’m left with one glove, which I can neither use nor bring myself to throw away. (It’s a perfectly good glove.) I’d rather lose two gloves: They’re both gone for good and I know where I stand.

The dead-glove phenomenon reminds me of the springtime equivalent: abandoned busted umbrellas. New York sidewalks become a graveyard of umbrella carcasses whenever it rains. First, it must be noted that New Yorkers will pull out their umbrellas at the first sign of any precipitation, be it a single drop (probably from someone’s high-rise air conditioner, anyway), a misty drizzle, a light snow flurry — whatever. (Those of us from Michigan and Minnesota wonder: “an umbrella in the snow?“)

They’re ubiquitous and cheap, and therefore easy to leave behind. How they miss the garbage cans on nearly every corner remains a mystery to me. Maybe the useless, impotent spines of a stripped and torn umbrella, shreds of soggy fabric flopping in the wind, are more demonstrative. You can count on it — someone right here earlier today had a hell of a time. Right here. You can almost feel their anguish, their rage, their frantic searching for a 99-cent store, their wet pant cuffs and sopping socks. It’s a testament to man’s struggle against nature. Poetry, almost.


the untallied hours