Amidst all of these storms, I wonder what are the social norms?

Amidst all of these storms, I wonder what are the social norms?


The guy in front has no idea. As I struggle down Sydney’s George Street in the pouring rain it’s a ‘war of umbrellas’. There they are – big, small, back, colourful, intact and inside out. Old ladies struggle, mothers don’t stand a chance. It’s the survival of the fittest, as people position themselves for the driest and most direct path.

As the April rain pelts down I ask myself, is there an umbrella etiquette? If so, does it has a gender bias? Does age count? The weather seems to confirm one thing – on the footpath ahead can be found the polite, the ignorant, the stupid and those lacking any sense of self-awareness.

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Some lean their umbrellas to the left, some to the right. Some lift as high as they can to avoid a clash. Others are dead-ahead in a fixed bearing, determined to reach their destination despite the plight of others. Indeed, some dump the run-off from their own suspended hood on the unsuspecting soul caught without any device at all.

These are big issues, particularly if wild weather events are to become more common as the climate change experts suggest. Thank goodness for Google, if only those on Sydney streets paid more attention to it. More particularly, thanks goodness for The Etiquette School of New York, where some of the world’s busiest footpaths can be found.

Here are the School’s 10 tips for umbrella etiquette:

  1. Carry an umbrella that’s appropriate for your size—one that you can manage. If you are a small person, don’t carry a golf umbrella.
  2. Be considerate when you open your umbrella: Look both ways before you open it. Be mindful of anyone who may be standing nearby.
  3. Be considerate of other pedestrians walking beside you, as well as those approaching you from a different direction.
  4. Raise or lower your umbrella depending upon the other pedestrians passing you. In other words, be flexible–be prepared to adjust the level of your umbrella to accommodate others.
  5. Keep it closed if you are standing under an awning or going through a covered area where there is little room to pass others.
  6. Close your dripping umbrella before entering a building or public transportation.
  7. Park your umbrella in a stand or place that is designated for umbrellas when inside.
  8. Carry your closed umbrella cautiously: When you are not using it, always hold it vertically, with the pointed end down. Don’t tuck it horizontally with the ends sticking out ready to stab someone.
  9. Properly dispose of broken umbrellas—don’t toss them angrily into the gutter.
  10. Be patient with your fellow pedestrians. Try not to get angry at others who may not know the rules of umbrella etiquette. Besides, a little rain never hurt anyone.

Read them and remember them. Even better, keep the list with you in a plastic sleeve and next time you see an idiot, arrogant or just dumb umbrella buffoon in action, hand him the copy.

For more etiquette tips take a look at The Etiquette School of New York website!

If you were affected by the recent storms and it affected your studies, CSU is here to help. For more information about CSU support services and assistance, visit student.csu.edu

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