On Umbrellas

It is really, really hard to keep track of umbrellas in Taipei.  I think I'm well into double-digits at this point.  It's a combination of things.  Firstly, I'm really absentminded.  Most restaurants and public buildings (including my school) have umbrella stands by the door so that you don't drip water all over their floor.  If it's not raining when I come out of the building, it's very likely that I will forget my umbrella.   I have also left umbrellas on the MRT (Taipei's subway system), buses, and, in at least one case, at a 7-11.  The second reason that I lose umbrellas is that people steal them.  I will come out from eating dinner, or working out at the gym, and I will find that my umbrella has mysteriously vanished.  Several people have advised me that I should just steal another umbrella from the stand, but I'm just not comfortable with that notion, for some reason. Luckily, umbrellas are very cheap.  You can get a decent one for NT$100 (about US$3) at any convenience store.  They're not amazingly well-made, nor amazingly durable, but since I have only owned one umbrella in Taiwan long enough for it to fall apart, I am not particularly worried about how well crafted my umbrellas are.

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One Response to “On Umbrellas”

  1. Cousin Dick Says:

    Me again. In my line of work we have a concept known as reframing. In a simpler past this was known as “looking at things from someone else’s point of view. It works like this:

    Some years ago–although probably in your lifetime–a group of street radicals in Amsterdam decided to get a bunch of old bicycles, paint them white and leave them unlocked and scattered about the city free for anyone to use. The idea was, say, somebody stole your bicycle or you left it at home thinking that you’d not need it and suddenly you found yourself in just that need . Perhaps you met you met Ms. Right (Now) while sitting at a cafe. She was with bike, you not. You’d just grab a white bike and follow her off into bliss. When you arrived, you’d leave the bike parked outside for someone else to use.

    As you might have anticipated, some Amsterdamers saw this more as an opportunity to take for themselves a bike that might easily be painted another color. Thus the good hearted and well intentioned scheme to create a fleet of free-to-use bikes died quickly.

    Translate this to the world of Taipei umbrellas. You contribute an umbrella to the city’s pool of umbrellas simply by buying it, using it to get to a public destination, then putting it into (or on) an umbrella stand, i.e., placing it into the pool. Thus it becomes available for whomever to use when leaving your location and heading out into the storm. When you are ready to leave, you reach into the pool and withdraw that which greets your hand. One hopes this will be a servicable umbrella, of course. The chances of finding Ms. Right (Now) in or on an umbrella stand being remarkably slim.

    Not stealing. Not restealing.

    (sigh…)

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