Don’t be a drip: Six umbrella etiquette tips

This is a guest post by Mary Morrison.

umbrellaI’ll get right to the point. I don’t have anything against umbrellas, I just don’t like them. It’s not fair, I know. Umbrellas don’t hurt people, people who have no awareness of their positions in space hurt people. When I worked downtown I developed an aversion to those suppliers of facial lacerations and honed my defenses like a prize fighter. I work at home now, my neighborhood more inclined toward hats and Northwest outerwear. My once catlike moves have evaporated and sadly, umbrella etiquette has gone the way of the dodo bird and land lines.

So maybe you forget you’re carrying a wet weapon. I shall try from now on not to get angry when you almost poke my eye out, and instead suggest below some ways you can reclaim for the umbrella its once gallant reputation.

Think Marching Band
Can you imagine what a college football halftime show would look like if those kids didn’t know how to move in relation to others? It’d be worse than Trader Joe’s parking lot on Saturday! If you’re walking among other umbrella users, think: Tall go up, Short go down. I’m in the vicinity of 5’9” depending on back and self-esteem issues, so I’d raise my umbrella to clear those below. Conversely, if you have fewer height restrictions in life, lower yours and avoid the eye of your neighbor. And remember, size does matter. Keep the golf umbrella with your clubs.

Don’t Be A Drip
All that water has to go somewhere, so before you enter a building be sure to shake off your umbrella (gracefully away from others, please) and either stow it in the building’s umbrella receptacle or carry your own plastic bag in which to stash the damp little guy. Similarly, don’t be a human downspout by tilting or spinning your umbrella. Gene Kelly, yes; you, no.

Wind, Nature’s Spa
Speaking of tilting your umbrella, don’t do it in the wind either. That’s a recipe for disaster and bad will. If it’s nasty weather (and you’re able), consider welcoming the wet.

Look Both Ways
More than ever we need to watch out for the distracted. That means look around before you deploy.

Yield the Awning
Using your umbrella under shelter is a little like wearing a belt and suspenders, isn’t it? If someone is in need of rain protection, share it.

The Tip Tip
Point up when open, down when closed. With few exceptions (see Gene Kelly note above), keep the shaft of your umbrella vertical. You don’t want to tuck it under your arm. I don’t want you to tuck it under your arm. Some in this world are inclined to walk into things. Please don’t help us.

Many things in our crowded and sometimes frustrating world can be eased with a little thoughtfulness. Try using the next rainstorm as an opportunity to practice awareness of others. It’ll brighten the day!


Mary Morrison is a writer and performer in Seattle and a founding member of the comedy group Mean Grown Ups.

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Arden Clise is founder and president of Clise Etiquette. Her love for business etiquette began in previous jobs when she was frequently asked for etiquette, public speaking and business attire advice by executives and board members. The passion for etiquette took hold and compelled Arden to start a consulting business to help others. Read more >>


  1. Laurel on February 23, 2015 at 7:23 pm

    So insightful and funny!

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