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What Do You Do With a Wet Umbrella?

     Dusting off the ol’ umbrella – a hundred and eighty-two days of sunshine, that umbrella collected a whole lot of dust molecules. Rain’s been pouring down off and on since yesterday and s’posed to be more tomorrow and I have a two-block walk from the parking lot to my office so that ol’ umbrella’s gonna be put into service once the dust molecules have found a landing spot.

     I keep a little black fold-up umbrella in my car. Mostly by the time I get where I’m going the rain has slowed to a faint mist and I leave the umbrella behind because I love the feel of wetness on my face. Trouble is, umbrellas have a way of getting even. You leave them behind, they speak to the rain gods and at the end of the day when you head back to your car, a sudden downpour thunders onto your unprotected head, new suit and suede shoes. Some days you just know you’d better take that umbrella along – which is fine, but then you wind up at your office door with a thoroughly wet umbrella and what do you do with it now?

     Can’t leave it outside - the wind will blow it away. Can’t leave it inside - it’s too wet. Plus it’s kind’a big to set anywhere. If you collapse it so it’s small enough to fit in the corner, how’s it ever going to get dry? Usually I shake it hard as I can to get the surplus drops off before I go in, but I have to shake it really fast because while I’m shaking I’m getting drenched.

     Inside the office I set the umbrella neatly on the floor but it topples over no matter how careful I am and it pokes me in the leg every time I get near the file cabinet so I collapse the thing about halfway, the soaking wet folds hanging limply at half mast and I set it on the visitor’s chair, hanging over the edge. When the visitor arrives, um – well, um – now what? Even if I move the umbrella, the chair’s all wet.

     Besides, now the visitor needs a place to set his umbrella and I don’t even have a place for his raincoat, let alone his dripping umbrella. After sizing up the situation, he cautiously opens the door and quick sets his umbrella outside but the wind picks it up and blows it across the courtyard and off he goes. Finally we fold up both umbrellas to their smallest dimension, hang his coat over the file cabinet and tend to business.

     This morning when I got to the parking lot it was barely misting, but I brought my umbrella to the office just in case. The day went smoothly – as much as a day at work can do that – and about three o’clock I tucked a few papers in a manila folder and set out across the open courtyard to the main building to check my mail and make some copies. No rain in sight. I left the umbrella behind.

     When I finished with the copies and all, I headed to the door to go back to my office. Outside the door, rain was bouncing off the courtyard harder than basketballs bounce off a gymnasium floor. But I’m no slacker. I tucked the folder under my jacket, opened the door and started walking. Real fast. Running. Kind’a fast. By the time I got to my office huge splats dotted my skirt, the folder was limp and soggy and my hair was wetter than –well, you know.

     It’s always good to have an umbrella handy on a rainy day. It’s even better if you don’t leave it behind.

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