Saturday, April 2, 2016
They say April showers bring May flowers. But I wasn't looking ahead that far when I tried to close my golfer's size Pebble Beach model umbrella with my right foot positioned inside my car in front of the driver's seat and the left foot planted in a three inch deep puddle. No, the month of May was not on my mind at all. I had just come out of the grocery store and was trying to maneuver two plastic bags, one umbrella, and my firm and fully rounded buttocks into my car without getting totally soaked. This April shower was turning into a deluge and I was quite busy at the moment cursing the designer or engineer or whatever masochist thought up that portion of the mechanics required to close the umbrella which by this time was threatening to turn me into Mary Poppins (fat chance, pun intended) as an updraft tugged forcefully on the handle I was desperately trying to manipulate into a closing configuration of the canopy. My tech savvy brain, besides getting soaked was trying to wrap itself around what seemed like a simple concept; to open my Pebble Beach model umbrella, all I have to do is push a button located right above the grip handle and...WA-LA...the arms with their accordion-like nylon fabric magically expand with a "swoosh" sound into the protective canopy to protect me from the elements. Thank you! Now why don't you apply your same engineering skills to the reverse motion so a press of the same button collapses and folds the arms and fabric back into their original cocoon-like shape? But no, I guess you'd rather watch me struggle with trying to slide the arm bracket down the shaft towards the (now useless) button to lock it all into the closed position, requiring more strength than I can muster with one arm because it requires about twenty five pounds of torque so I have to stick the butt of the handle in my gut and pull with two hands which means my second hand while clasping the car key remote is dangerously close to pushing on the red emergency button, conveniently placed below the "lock" and "unlock" buttons, which if pushed while struggling with my umbrella closing contortions would set off horn honking alarms so that everybody in the parking lot would be able to laugh at the old guy who pushed the wrong button on his remote. I live in a "55 + community" so parking lot alarms are not an unusual phenomena but I prefer to be the observer rather than the culprit of these parking lot alarm occurrences so I can shake my head side to side, cluck my tongue, and mutter to myself (or my wife if she's with me), "Yup, just one more example of someone who's too old to drive. Better turn your license back in to AARP grandpa (or grandma)!" Well, this time I managed to avoid the red button pressing maneuver by deftly losing my grip on the remote so that it dropped into the same puddle my left foot was soaking in. I didn't think that was a healthy environment for a battery powered remote vehicle starting device so I postponed the umbrella closing actions and reached down with my right had to retrieve the key/remote and tossed them onto the driver's seat. With my arms spread in opposite directions, the weather protection features of the umbrella at this juncture were pretty close to nonexistent. And the rain just kept on coming, harder and harder. So, with one last desperate attempt to close the umbrella and find shelter inside the cabin of my car, I resumed my two-handed closing technique on the Pebble Beach monster and pulled the arm bracket down to the button and finally heard the reassuring sound of it clicking closed. I slid my thoroughly drenched carcass into the driver's seat and shook the umbrella to remove excess droplets of water before bringing it inside. Which was kind of dumb because it still gave the passenger seat a pretty significant soaking. Anyway, the car started up fine, the windshield wipers were working fine, the defogger was working fine and the trip home was unremarkable. Someone still needs to find an easier way of closing an umbrella. I'm thinking maybe the car engineers could design a remote that would open and close the umbrella. Just don't put an alarm button on it.