The City #27

When winter rolled around my first year in New York, I noticed that when it began to snow people pulled out umbrellas. They looked funny! Walking along as fluffy snowflakes fluttered in the air, pushed along by the wind, slowly descending and landing on the dog poop left on the sidewalk by an obnoxious, irresponsible, degenerate dog owner with no consideration for anyone else. Snow is white. Dog owners that leave their dogs’ poop for everyone to marvel at, well, they are black. (How is that for dualistic thinking and self-righteous judgmentalism?) People in New York don’t like deposits left on the sidewalk – really, really don’t like them.
Anyway, snow, winter, and umbrellas.
Growing up in the mid-west along a Great Lake, we had lots of snow during most of the winter. In places where winter is truly cold and snowy, well, people just don’t do something as droll as use an umbrella during a snowfall. Why would you, really? Half the time snow is falling sideways, anyway. What good is an umbrella during sideways snow flurries? What about blizzards? Useless.
I suspect it really does make sense, in a way. In New York City, 60% of the population come from somewhere else, and many of that 60% come from warm climates that rarely ever see snow. So, for those people, when water falls from the sky in whatever form, well, an umbrella is an appropriate response.
They’re wimps! They look funny.
This morning, I found an open umbrella just rolling around on the sidewalk as I headed to work in Manhattan. It had just started to snow a little (it had been drizzling rain, earlier). Who was the owner of a working umbrella? I went and investigated this bizarre occurrence only to find out that while the umbrella had wonderful spring-action-opening capabilities, it would not remain closed. A death sentence for an umbrella! There was a woman standing by me who said, “I’ll take it!” She was one of those that use umbrellas when it snows. Oh, well; I gave it to her and she was thrilled. Good deed for the day – besides, I was wearing clericals and it is always good to dispel those negative stereotypes applied to priests. Now, all that water falling out of the sky won’t muss her hair.
If I were back home, using umbrellas during snow is considered a bit weird. No one does it, except for those who happen to migrate from warmer places. I just looks funny.
UPDATE: Okay, okay, okay… Freezing rain. That might well be an appropriate time for an umbrella during winter. The stuff hurts! Freezing rain, but not for snow!