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  1. Opinion

Raincoats are better than umbrellas, case closed

Stephanie Hayes | Umbrellas are useless, and I won’t hear otherwise.

It can be no coincidence that this week’s weather event was named Eta, the seventh letter of the Greek alphabet. In another context, those letters stand for “estimated time of arrival.”

Tropical Storm Eta spent forever ping-ponging around like an unruly guest at Sandals Resort. “I’ll be there at 5!” Eta texted, got distracted by all-you-can-drink rum runners and started doing the Electric Slide by the pool, then got lost on the sprawling resort campus until she was wearing one flip flop and plowing into us.

Though some in Tampa Bay sustained flooding and damage, on the whole, we were lucky. I do not want to think about a strong hurricane hitting us. I do not! Want! To! Think! About! It! So I am going to live in denial by instead settling a contentious issue around rainfall accessories.

In our polarized society, I expect many of you to take sides. That’s okay. This discourse makes us better. But just know that I am right.

Raincoats are better than umbrellas.

I am not talking about a chic raincoat that calls to mind a British diplomat like Paddington Bear. I mean a zip-front thing with a drawstring hood that reduces your face to a stroopwafel. It has a hideous sporting goods insignia. Touch it; it feels like a camp tent.

I got mine at Walmart on Dale Mabry years ago, en route to cover a rainy event at Raymond James Stadium. Rest assured, it is very ugly. This is not about fashion. This is about getting from your car to the door quickly without wrestling a soaking, spring-loaded weapon.

When has an umbrella ever kept you dry? Maybe at first, but that rain comes in sideways and it’s all over. The wind blows a skosh and you’re Weather Channel B-roll. By the time you get inside, you are a drowned carp. Maybe there’s a plastic umbrella sheath at the door, which makes you the proud parent of a wet stick in a bag. It is purgatory.

A raincoat suggests a Breaking Bad aesthetic, yes. That’s fine. It’s temporary. Zip your purse inside, tuck your phone in the mesh inner pockets. Ride a bike! Carry something else! Once you unzip that puppy, you will look pristine, like Beyoncé. I promise, everyone who wears a raincoat will look like Beyoncé. Your hair will tumble out like Beyoncé, even if you are bald.

I wore my ugly raincoat to the Clearwater Super Target Wednesday to get last minute Eta supplies — an external charger, candles, sour cream and onion chips, jalapeno chips, banana chips. Mostly chips, to be honest.

Folks in the parking lot warred with umbrellas while I breezed past in my hood, baseball cap and mask. Approximately one square inch of my face was visible. It was a great opportunity to pull off a heist.

On the way out, the umbrella people dithered at the door about who would get the car. I trotted along with my chips, head completely obscured.

A black object lay crumpled inside a cart in the docking bay. It was unmistakable. An umbrella, abandoned, alone. Visualize the battle that fateful day, the struggle of wills followed by utter resignation as the wet citizen slung the broken brolly into the red cart and stomped off.

The state, dryly, rests.

Related: Read more columns from Stephanie Hayes

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