Over the last few years I've heard some strange things being said as it pertains to umbrellas and Seattle's weather, and at this point I think something needs to be said.
I've heard not a few people saying that real Seattleites, of which I certainly claim to be, do not carry umbrellas. These people say that the rain is just too intense, too savage, for any man to be able to maintain the integrity of an umbrella for any length of time. They say that all they need is a raincoat, because they are a real Seattleite.
Well pardon me while I go throw up. I really have no idea what these people are talking. If you want to successfully navigate an umbrella in the pounding Seattle rain it only takes one thing: the will power to purchase, and keep on purchasing, expensive umbrellas.
It is true that the cheap, miniature $4.99 jobs just aren't going to get the thing done. They really have two fundamental problems. The first is what everyone cites, that they're weak and don't hold up. It's true. Their ribs are tiny and they are apt to blow inside out and they just don't make it. But the less cited problem they have that is really my main problem and that is their diminutive circumference does not provide adequate coverage to maintain a dry body. I'm sorry, but putting a glorified paper plate over your head will not get the job done. I don't know how it is everywhere else, but in Seattle you have to be prepared for the sideways rain, the pour, the swirl rain, power rain, slant rain, all that stuff. That tiny thing is a guarantee for drenched pants and an only semi-dry head.
The expensive umbrella is the final answer to the problem. Your expensive umbrella is going to run you anywhere from $12 - $14.99. The features of an expensive umbrella are that they are two to three times as long as a cheap umbrella, they should be hooked at the end, they don't fold or have a button that makes it "shoot up", and I've never seen one turn inside out and that includes in hurricanes (I mean, I've never seen someone try to brave a hurricane with an umbrella, and technically that still counts as me never having seen even a hurricane flip one inside out). There are two negatives to a large umbrella, though they are ultimately worth it. The first is that they are a pain in the ass to carry around. The advantage of the small umbrella is that they usually have a strap you can sling around your wrist, they pack easily under the armpit, and they fit inside most bags. None of these things are so with the large umbrella. It is cumbersome, it is inconvenient. You're constantly needing to find a place you can stuff it when you're not using it and you don't want to lug the thing around.
And it is this first problem that leads to the second problem: You're going to lose it. And if you're like me, you're going to lose it frequently. I mean, it's not that bad, I'm probably on my sixth one in as many years or so.
The last time I lost one was yesterday. I stepped off the bus and, you got it, no umbrella. Mercifully the bus had come to a stop at a red light just 50 feet down the road. I ran up and knocked on the window. Usually they won't open up for you unless you're at an official stop, but this lady was cool and let me in. I told her I forgot my umbrella and I'd just ride to the next stop, and the lady was so cool she said she'd wait for me to grab it and get off! (The bus, I mean.) We need more bus drivers like her, and I got a free umbrella—when I step off the bus without it that thing is as good as gone; if I'm able to recover it I consider that getting a new umbrella.
So really I'm on number seven.