Imagine how lovely it would have been to stroll, umbrella opened wide in a light drizzle, near the Gare Saint-Lazare into Gustave Caillebotte’s “Paris Street; Rainy Day.” Everyone seems so civil.

Imagine if you tried the same thing on a downtown street at rush hour, where small, collapsible umbrellas jockey for space with gigantic golf umbrellas, the strolling contingent vies with the race walkers, and everyone squeezes-at the same time and with umbrellas wide open-through construction sites.

While the umbrella – or brolly or bumbershoot or parasol – has protected people from sun or rain for some 4,000 years, there apparently are a few rude umbrella handlers left on the planet. You can avoid the “rude” label by trying a little umbrella etiquette.

Avoid putting your closed, drippy umbrella on the empty seat beside you on public transportation, taxis included. No one wants to sit in a puddle.

Keep umbrellas out of public-transit or office passageways where people can trip over them.

Before entering a bus or building, for example, step to the side, gently shake rain off an umbrella, then close before entering.

When walking on a crowded street, be alert to those on either side of you as well as those approaching. When an area is crowded, make eye contact with those approaching and tip the umbrella to the side and out of the way or, if you are tall enough, raise it above others.

When walking with a closed, full-size umbrella, carry it with pointed tip down, not slung over your shoulder or tucked up under your arm, where it could poke those behind you.

In public buildings, find a coatroom, umbrella stand or out-of-the-way corner to store your umbrella. In countries with long rainy seasons, some stores provide plastic bags in which shoppers can place soggy umbrellas.

Limit use of those huge, golf-size umbrellas to the golf course or places with a lot of space.

No matter what the size of the umbrella, no matter how heavy the downpour, courtesy is your best guide. “Respect is one of the great principles of manners,” said Judith “Miss Manners” Martin. Whether toting an umbrella, a backpack or a humongous briefcase, “if you walk through a crowd and you start hitting people right and left with yourself, of course you would be rude.”


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