Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Umbrella Etiquette, or Vigo Debajo de la Lluvia (Gives Me Too Much Time to Think)

Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day...

This is an extremely dangerous song to be singing in Galicia, where rain won't just come some other day, but rather EVERY other day. The forecast for this week looks like this:

More rain? What a surprise!

When you live in a place like Galicia, where on any given day it's a wonderful surprise when it DOESN'T rain, you start to learn a few things about rain itself. You begin to recognize cloud formations and to know what type of rain is coming, you get a sense of how long a given type of rain is probably going to last, you absolutely know approximately how long it will take your clothes to dry outside in the damp weather, and you learn a whole lot of rain-related vocabulary. "Sirimiri" means a light drizzle, "chubasquero" is raincoat, "niebla" is mist, "llover a cántaros" is to pour...I could go on and on.

It's kind of like the below scene in Forrest Gump. Sideways rain, rain that seems to come up from underneath...I've seen it all.

Anyway, I've also learned a whole bunch about something I'd never really even thought about before: the etiquette of using umbrellas. I almost never used umbrellas in the US. If it was raining, I'd just take the trouble to park my car slightly closer to wherever I was going and run inside. But here, I spend so much time walking around outside that being without an umbrella would be absurd. So now I know these unspoken rules:

1. When two umbrella-holders are approaching each other, the taller person (usually me) must lift their umbrella to let the shorter one's umbrella pass underneath.

2. When the above isn't possible, or you're both the same height, moving your umbrella out to the side is also possible, as long as you're not in a crowded place.

3. In couples, the boy carries the umbrella (partially because the girl is usually shorter, plus the whole chivalrous aspect to it). With friends sharing, it's whoever's taller.

4. If you forget your umbrella on a given day and it starts pouring, everyone you know will offer to lend you one.

5. Carrying your wet umbrella inside is bad manners. You absolutely must leave it in the umbrella stand by the door, despite the fact that this makes it 150% more likely that you will forget said umbrella when leaving.

And most importantly,
 6. If you carry around a pink child's umbrella, you WILL get made fun of by absolutely everyone you meet. Apparently no one but me sees the practicality of a smaller umbrella.

Getting sick of this...

So in order to not go crazy until the sunshine comes around again, I'll try to be "singin' in the rain, just singin' in the rain..."


  1. Ha, I enjoyed this little cultural lesson. And congrats on having 25 within your sights!

  2. Thanks! And congrats to you on the trophy!