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How not to be a dick with an umbrella in NYC

Written by
Time Out New York contributors

There's nothing quite like a rain shower to turn New Yorkers into inconsiderate assholes. Whenever the huddled masses across town are reminded of the phenomenon that is the water cycle, all hell breaks loose and nearly every unspoken social contract that binds the city together is thrown out the window.

The most pernicious? Awful umbrella etiquette. 

New Yorkers wield their umbrellas with the carelessness of a six-year-old child whose fingers are caked with melted gummy bears. The oft-repeated warning of "you could poke an eye out" feels more relevant than ever when trying to navigate a rainy street in Gotham. 

We're acutely aware of the haphazard manner with which New Yorkers carry umbrellas—it upsets us so much that we've been compelled to put together a brief guide for umbrella etiquette in the city on a rainy day.

Should we have to do this? Probably not, but we're hoping that this can be one small step toward reminding people that a little bit of rain does not give you the license to act like a complete dick

1. Beware the subway stairs

We've tackled the problem of umbrellas on subway stairs before, but it's worth reinforcing. If you're walking up the stairs, take the extra five seconds to clear the top step (and any human heads nearby) before unfurling your water shield. A few drops are not going to kill you, but a metal tip to the face could do some damage. If you're heading down to the subway, carefully close your umbrella before descending. It's really not complicated, folks. 

2. Mind your goddamn drips

During a rain shower, any lobby or train in the city is bound to be filled with ignorant umbrella shakers. Umbrellas are quite the intuitive invention—whenever you're finished using one, it takes less than 10 seconds to break down, shake dry and roll up the gadgets. Doing the shake-and-roll all over a subway car or storefront is an affront to all of the progress that humanity has made since we were painting on cave walls. 

3. Avoid an umbrella collision

Whenever two umbrella-wielding New Yorkers walk past one another on a street, there's a moment when both individuals acknowledge the other and determine who is going to raise their accessory out of harm's way. This would be an adorable occurrence if people were not so utterly incompetent at accomplishing it successfully. Moving forward, always remember that the taller person should raise their umbrella. If the two people in question are the exact same height, it might be a good opportunity to leverage some of those nonverbal social cues that everyone ignores during a downpour.

4. Ban your massive umbrellas

New York City's sidewalks aren't exactly the size of a fairway, so there's no reason why a New Yorker should carry an umbrella meant for one. We get it: A portable canopy that's six feet in diameter will surely keep multiple people dry, but it's also going to gum up surrounding foot traffic and act as a legitimate hazard to anyone who is uninterested in getting jabbed in the face. Consider purchasing a small umbrella designed for an urban setting in lieu of one that's meant to be used on a sprawling golf course

5. Don't use an umbrella at all

If the rain outside is merely drizzling, there's hardly a reason why anyone needs to shield their precious heads. Even if it is coming down like cats and dogs, a proper raincoat and hood can do a great job of preventing any and all wetness that might occur. Our Creative Director Tom Hislop's opinion on this front is worth sharing: "Umbrellas are never appropriate," he says. "They gouge eyeballs, make someone take up five times as much room as they normally would and, for some reason, give people license to act like complete maniacs—especially in Times Square. Get a raincoat." 

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