Observing the natural life cycle of umbrellas

We returned yesterday from our Chrifsmas vacation to New York City, and on our trip, I observed the full natural life cycle of the Street Vendor Umbrella in a single day. I’ve never seen it in such a compressed form before. Here’s how it went.

Early in the day, the weather forecasts predicted high winds and rain. They were right. We were walking around at about noon when the rain first started falling. Immediately, street vendors selling umbrellas emerged from their hiding places. “UM-brellas UM-brellas UM-brellas! Get’cher UM-brellas here!” they chanted. This marked the start of the lives of the Street Vendor Umbrellas, for they aren’t umbrellas at all until they are used to shield someone from rain.

But Street Vendor Umbrellas are a fragile, inferior species, and as such, are sold on the cheap (for $5-10 each). They didn’t last long. As we continued walking around in the stabbing rain and blustering wind, we saw umbrellas turning inside out, just a few at first, but as the wind grew stronger, we saw it happen more and more often. I looked at the faces of the dejected people, who didn’t have the foresight to wear a raincoat that day, clutching at their inverted umbrellas in vain.

Fleeing the inclement conditions, we ate dinner and saw a movie. When we finally emerged from the movie, we were greeted with a dark scene: the death of the umbrellas, a full life cycle having passed in a single day. Discarded carcasses of umbrellas littered the sidewalk, fabric torn from its proper place, metal spokes jutting outwards at bizarre angles. Every trash can on every street corner had a broken, shattered umbrella in it. Some had two, while others had dead umbrellas propped up against them.

The strong winds of that day had been very harsh on that oh so fragile species, the Street Vendor Umbrella. The herd had been rapidly weeded out of its weaker elements, leaving the remnants of its natural selection laying cruelly in plain sight along every street and avenue. It was horrifying. But do not be sad for the umbrellas; this is the circle of life. This is how it will always be. The Street Vendor Umbrellas will rise again on the next rainy day, and hopefully, if it isn’t too windy, more of them will live to see another day.

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