Modern Etiquette: Umbrellas, backpacks and selfie sticks

Mon Jun 1, 2015 12:26am EDT
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By Mary M. Mitchell

(Reuters) - In a perfect world, safety and good manners run a parallel course. Yet that is not today’s reality, especially when it comes to umbrellas, backpacks and selfie sticks.

Consider the concept of private public space and you’ll get the idea. We might be in public, yet it’s important to remain cognizant of those around us. Often the people around us end up being victims of unthinking harm. Harm hurts. Few scenarios bring out the pain potential more than travel does.

Let’s take umbrellas. There is a difference between navigating a rainstorm and a medieval jousting match. I live in Seattle and have just returned from London, so I know about rain. In the spirit of preventing mishaps, here are some umbrella etiquette tips:

1. Carry umbrellas close to the body, point down, when they are closed.

2. When unfurling an umbrella, be sure to look in all directions to avoid spearing anyone with its points or spokes.3.

3. Hold an opened umbrella low or high enough so you don’t block anyone’s vision or poke someone in the eye. When passing, someone needs to raise the umbrella or move it aside. The polite person is the one to do this. Contentious challenges serve nobody.

4. When two people are sharing an umbrella, let the taller person wield it. Worry less about chivalry in deference to visibility, safety and comfort.

5. Shake out the umbrella (being careful not to drench anyone nearby) before you enter a building. Floor puddles are messy and potentially dangerous.   Continued...

Visitors carry umbrellas past the Laurent-Perrier Chatsworth Garden during a rain storm at the Royal Horticultural Society's Chelsea Flower Show in London, Britain May 19, 2015.  REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett