Metro-East Living

Here’s the proper way to put away an umbrella when entering a store, house

Umbrellas were the order of the day for the few patrons of the Chili Cook-Off who braved the rainy weather during the lunch hour in this News-Democrat file photo.
Umbrellas were the order of the day for the few patrons of the Chili Cook-Off who braved the rainy weather during the lunch hour in this News-Democrat file photo.

Q. One thing all the recent rain brought was the fact that some people don’t know much about proper umbrella etiquette. I can’t believe how many people came through the front door of my little business office and shook off their wet umbrella instead of shaking it outside the door. Could you please provide a few tips for future rainy days?

A. Yes, we certainly have had enough rainy days to practice proper umbrella etiquette. Here are some basic rules:

▪  Remember that an umbrella basically doubles you in size; therefore, select an umbrella that fits your size. A smaller, shorter person trying to carry a golf-sized umbrella, for example, is going to cause space problems for those near.

▪  Always look around you before opening your umbrella to avoid hitting someone with the edges of your umbrella.

▪  When walking with an open umbrella on a sidewalk, be sure to hold it in a manner which allows you to see in front of you so that you don’t bump into other pedestrians. Be prepared to raise and lower it depending on the pedestrians walking beside you, as well as those approaching you. For example, if you see a shorter person approaching you with an open umbrella, raise your umbrella over theirs to avoid a crash.

▪  If you are carrying an umbrella in anticipation of rain, keep it folded and carry it vertically with the point down. Do not swing it. Avoid sticking your folded umbrella horizontally under your arm because the end can easily poke someone walking near you or behind you.

▪  Open your umbrella outside a building rather than inside.

▪  Avoid bringing an open wet umbrella inside a building or someone’s home, or onto a bus or train (Metro). Shake it outside off to the side of the entrance door, then loosely fold it and then enter. Before you shake it, look around you so as to avoid shaking it on someone near you or behind you. If you have a disposable plastic cover, take it with you and use it.

▪  Many commercial buildings and offices now provide a stand outside their entrance door or just inside, with complimentary plastic disposable umbrella covers. If there is a plastic rain cover available, take the time to put it over your umbrella. Look for an umbrella stand in which to place your folded wet umbrella until you are ready to leave.

▪  Before knocking on someone’s front door, or entering their home, check to see if there is a covered area near the door where you can leave your dripping umbrella. If there is, shake it off to the side, fold it and leave it, making certain it is in a spot which will not interfere with anyone else who may be arriving and entering behind you. If there is no covered area, shake the umbrella, fold it and ask the person who answers the door where he or she would like you to place your wet umbrella.

▪  Do not place a wet umbrella on an empty seat next to you on a bus or train. Shake it before entering the door, fold it, and place it on the floor under your seat, or if a short ride, and you can manage it, stand it up in front of your knees. Do not hang the handle end over the seat in front of you.

▪  It is wise to put a piece of tape with your name on it, or tie a small piece of colored ribbon onto the handle of your umbrella to make it more easily identifiable when retrieving your umbrella. Always check to make sure the umbrella you are retrieving is yours before departing with it.

▪  Remember to be considerate of others who may not have an umbrella. Do not impede them from moving around you at a faster pace.

▪  When standing outdoors near others with an open umbrella, be careful not to tip your umbrella causing water to fall onto someone else.

▪  Navigating sidewalks with an umbrella is not always easy; therefore, be patient and considerate of others.

▪  If you borrow someone’s umbrella, be sure to return it as soon as possible.

Q. My husband and I got married before Christmas. I recently asked him what he wanted to get his mother for Mother’s Day and he said she told him she didn’t want anything because he has a wife, now, etc, etc. So my husband says he’s not getting her anything. “We’ll call her,” he said. I think he should get her a gift no matter what she said. There’s no rule that I know about which says you don’t give your mother a Mother’s Day gift once your married, is there?

A. No, there is no such silly rule. It is appropriate to do special things for our mother whenever possible irrespective of whether we are married or not. If the budget allows, I strongly suggest your husband get a Mother’s Day gift for his mother, a card, and/or have flowers sent to her. That’s in addition to the phone call as well. If at all possible, spending time with your mother on Mother’s Day is always a very special gift.

Dianne Isbell is a local contributing writer. Send your etiquette questions to Dianne Isbell at Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or email them to