What better time than in the middle of a nationwide drought to talk about the one thing we all need: rain? When the heavens finally open, those of us with just the right kind of luck will be caught outdoors, on our way to important meetings, job interviews or ball games. An umbrella is a good thing to have, if you know how to use it.How to open an umbrella: it's cats and dogs out there, and you want to stay as dry as possible. Point your umbrella down and to your right, and look around you before you make another move. Umbrellas expand your personal space, so opening yours slowly will keep it from crashing into the guy making a mad dash across the parking lot because he forgot his.
How to carry an umbrella: if you are the only person around, carry that umbrella any way you need to to keep the rain off your neck. But if you are on a crowded sidewalk, keep your umbrella close and keep an eye on the traffic. If you are very tall, and someone comes toward you with a competing umbrella, raise yours up higher, so theirs can pass under yours. If you are a shorter person, lower yours and pass under the other umbrella that way. Paying attention should keep you from taking someone's eye out unexpectedly.
If it stops raining: carry your closed umbrella like a walking stick, point down. Never point your umbrella at anyone else; it's threatening and you could hurt somebody.
Indoors, look for a place just inside the entry to leave your umbrella. If there is no umbrella stand, close yours up and put it in its bag or leave it just inside the door. Never leave it on a rug or on furniture unless you can afford to replace whatever gets ruined by the inevitable dripping water. In an office building, you can ask the receptionist where to leave it, or just set it out of the way near the main entrance. Most people will not steal an umbrella even if they need one, so yours should be safe until you need it again.
Just in case, it's a good idea to tape your name and number or a business card inside your umbrella, high up on the handle so it doesn't get washed out. Umbrellas can look a lot alike, and you will want to get yours back when you take someone else's home by mistake.
Most importantly, never, never open an umbrella inside your house – it's bad luck!