Umbrella Fashion

Not to start down the global warming/climate change road, but the snowy place I live in has had astoundingly fluctuating weather this winter. A 3-day winter weather advisory with wicked wind chill followed by 48 degrees and rain today.

The snow is gone and my seriously confused daffodils are poking up in the garden.

Walking in to work today I noticed two things: every ones spring flowers are confused and there is a distinct lack of umbrella etiquette on a college campus. Add in the fact that most of the students have earphones while they are texting and you get an occasional pile up at cross walks.

While this is a limited study in a specialized location, I think I have identified several umbrella “types”. Just like you can bet the Indian men will raise their umbrella above yours as they pass on the sidewalk, there are a couple of umbrella fashions you can always count on.

High Fashion: If there is a clear bubble umbrella walking toward you it will invariably be held by young Asian woman wearing high heels and carrying a Hello Kitty backpack. These students are incredibly well-dressed and make a bee line for the Management School.

Low Fashion: If there is an umbrella with a broken spoke, it will be carried by a scraggly art student whose too-long jeans hems are soaked black with muddy water. This umbrella is not to protect the person carrying it but an attempt to keep their portfolio and tackle box dry.

Piggy Fashion: Golf umbrellas that can cover three people are invariably carried by a single person talking on a cell phone. The air of entitlement does not end with the solo occupancy but extends to their indiscriminately bumping others umbrellas as they breeze along the sidewalk like the prow of a ship.

Practical Fashion: Compact and cheerful portable umbrellas are carried by nursing students. I know they are nursing students because they wear their scrubs tucked into their candy colored wellies, and they are always smiling and walking in packs. The dental students, who also wear scrubs, don’t smile or walk in groups. Don’t know why.

There are always assorted frat boys who wear only hoodies when it rains, and the freaky guys who think rain = warm weather and put on shorts and sandals. These are the students who will so generously share their viruses with the rest of the campus in a few weeks.

One sight that never gets old for me on a rainy day is the guy holding an umbrella over his girlfriend while his back gets all wet. I find this sweet and considerate. Sting just needed a golf umbrella and a nicer girlfriend in the ’80s.

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