I guess this is really a question about gender etiquette. Leaving an office building after a business meeting recently, it was raining cats and dogs. My co-worker didn’t have an umbrella, so I unfurled mine in the gusting wind and held it high enough to shelter us both. At one point, on our trek through the sheeting rain, she handled the umbrella while I fumbled around in the pockets of my windbreaker for my car key. We reached her car first. I waited while she opened the door and left the shield of my umbrella before handing it back to me saying, “Thank you, George.” I proceeded to my car the next row over.
My question is this. On all fronts my female counterpart and I are equally compensated by our company, and we always pay for our own meals when we’re on the road. Nonetheless, it felt strange having her hold the umbrella. Should I have been more of a gentleman and taken the umbrella back from her once I had my car key in hand? Or was it more correct for us to take turns managing the umbrella? It was mighty windy.
–GN, Seattle, W
Gender etiquette supports that the person with the longest or strongest arm holds the umbrella. If the woman is the taller of the two, then having her hold the umbrella would keep you both dryer. Since it was your umbrella, gently taking it back after finding your car key would have been appropriate.
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