Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Lost and Found: Umbrella
It was raining this morning, not just a winter drizzle but a full-fledged downpour for which Belgium is known almost as much as the United Kingdom. If you come here as a tourist (or for business), don’t ever forget your raincoat because you’re bound to get soaked at least once. Another thing you may notice during your visit is that people between Ghent, Antwerp, Brussels and Turnhout, the town were I was born, all have the same umbrella: a small black or blue one that you can collapse until it almost takes up no place at all.
The reason why everyone in this area has such an umbrella, is because I gave them one. Not that I am that generous, mind you.
I always buy them in the Hema, a Dutch supermarket, because they only cost two or three euros. Then when I have to travel I often take it with me when I see dark clouds or the weatherman or woman predicted rain or it’s raining cats and dogs. I jump on the train, put my backpack and umbrella on the rack above me and my coat and scarf on the hanger and then happily wait until we arrive. Then I put on my coat and scarf, take my backpack and get off the train.
It often takes me several days to realise that I left ANOTHER umbrella on the train. Meanwhile, some poor guy or girl who forget his/her umbrella at home noticed that there was an unattended umbrella in the train (as seems often to be the case) and is very pleased that he/she doesn’t have to scramble through the showers without protection.
This morning I left the house with our jointly-owned, very beautiful and very expensive umbrella which I’m not supposed to take with me lest I forget it again on the train. But they were really throwing down the rain by the barrel, so I vowed not to be absent minded again and took it with me. And sure enough, I almost forgot it in Brussels Central station. It took me quite an effort to wrestle my way trough the row of commuters to get back at my seat and to rescue my precious.
The stupid thing of course is that I didn’t need it all they long. But if I hadn’t taken an umbrella, then I would have returned home wet like an albatross that got wing fatigue over the dead centre of the Atlantic Ocean!