Should You Use An Umbrella? the Case For and Against
Rainy day proverb
Rain rain go away, Come again another day
I live in a climate where you can be walking down the street thinking what a lovely sunny day it is one minute, then 10 minutes later be either soaking wet, or hiding under a bus shelter due to a sudden outpouring of rain. This means that people often tell me it would be a good idea to carry an umbrella just in case. However I think umbrellas are anti social, ineffective and a bit useless in certain sorts of wind. As someone who is not a fan of umbrellas, here are my 5 reasons why umbrellas are not worth the effort.
Arguments Against Umbrellas
Reasons not to bother with them.
Reason 1: They do not work very well in the wind...
Ever tried to use an umbrella on a windy, rainy day? What happens? In my experience either the umbrella breaks because it blows inside out, or alternatively it catches the wind and acts as a sort of sail pulling you along. Admittedly being pulled along like a sail by your umbrella could be fun, but if that happens you will still get wet.
Reason 2: Unless you are over 6 foot tall you might gauge someone's eye out
There is nothing worse then walking along a crowded street in the rain where everyone has their umbrellas out. Umbrellas take up a lot of space, and if being carried by someone a few inches shorter than you they can mean you are making those around you in constant danger of being poked in the eye. In crowds umbrellas are anti social.
Reason 3: It's fun to get wet anyway
Sometimes when it rains, no matter how hard you try, you may as well just accept you are going to get wet, and allow nature to take its course. There is something liberating about just accepting that you are going to get absolutely soaking wet in a downpour. Especially if it is not too cold, and you are on your way home (and not for example to an important meeting) being drenched can be enjoyable.
There is a poem that goes:
You say that you love rain, but you open your umbrella when it rains.
You say that you love the sun, but you find a shadow spot when the sun shines.
You say that you love the wind, but you close your windows when wind blows.
This is why I am afraid, you say that you love me too.
Some parts of the internet say this is a quotation from Bob Marley (and even more oddly also William Shakespeare...). However it is more reliably attributed to a Turkish poet called Qyazzirah Syeikh Ariffin.
There are also many other examples of popular culture references to the joy of being in the rain. From "Singing in the Rain" in the classic musical:
I'm singing in the rain
Just singing in the rain
What a glorious feelin'
I'm happy againI
Or Ricky Martin's Living La Vida Loca which includes the lines "She'll make you take your clothes off and go dancing in the rain".
Reason number 4: You have to carry them with you
Umbrellas can be heavy and cumbersome, meaning you have to carry them with you. This can be inconvenient and mean your hands aren't free for other things. Of course you can get umbrellas that fold up relatively small and can be popped into a bag or a rucksack, but typically these are the very flimsy ones that won't withstand any rain. When it is raining they will always take up one hand, when it isn't raining they will still be extra weight, especially if you have a properly strong umbrella that won't just collapse the moment there is a gust of wind.
Reason number 5: Anoraks are better at keeping you dry
When faced with heavy rain an umbrella isn't really going to do much, especially if there is also a gust of wind. It might keep your top half dry, but your legs are inevitably going to get wet.
If you are really concerned about staying dry, your best equipment is as follows:
- An anorak (or parka or cagoule)
- Waterproof trousers
- Wellington boots
Arguments for Umbrellas
Why you should appreciate umbrellas
Having said all that umbrellas do have positives. Here are the five key reasons to appreciate umbrellas.
Reason 1: Sharing an umbrella
In the words of Rihanna:
Now that it's raining more than ever
Know that we'll still have each other
You can stand under my umbrella
You can stand under my umbrella
(Ella ella eh eh eh)
Now Rihanna may well be singing about a metaphorical umbrella, but sharing an umbrella can be romantic. Imagine the setting:
You are strolling through the park on a lovely bright spring day, with your umbrella in your hand just in case. Suddenly without warning it starts to pour with rain. There is a very attractive girl just in front of you. Being the chivalrous gentleman you leap forward and offer to share your umbrella.The girl would not normally speak to strangers but she does not want her hair to be ruined so she accepts your offer. As you walk through the park together under the umbrella you talk and get to know each other. One year later you are engaged and live happily ever after together.
Note: The above scenario may seem rather gender biased (and optimistic), I would like to say that inverting the scenario, or having same sex umbrella sharing is just as good. Although if one person is taller than the other, they should always be the one carrying the umbrella.
Reason 2: to protect you from the sun!
There are different kinds of umbrellas of course. Umbrellas can be used to shade you and protect you from the heat of the sun, and skin cancer. Wouldn't it be lovely to be sitting on the beach like the man in the photograph to the right?
Reason 3: Umbrellas in your cocktails
Another sort of umbrella is the little paper sort that you get in some fancy cocktails. Sitting under your parasol in the sun, sipping a silly cocktail with a paper umbrella - blissful.
Reason 4: As art or fashion
Umbrellas can be decorative, fashion statements and/or beautiful. They can be art. The can come in all colors, with many designs and can be arranged and displayed in many stylish artistic ways.
Perhaps if your umbrella is broken by the wind you can also reuse it to create something artistic.
Reason 5: They are useful on some occasions to stop you getting wet
Despite the five reasons against umbrellas above, in some circumstances they can in fact meet the purpose of keeping you dry. If the rain is light, and it isn't too windy they will usually do the job. Even the most hardened anti umbrella, enjoying getting wet fan, may occasionally want to avoid getting wet and sneaking into the shelter provided. I am one of those annoying people who does not have my own umbrella, but will occasionally try and share my companions.