The biggest question I have after moving to the Pacific Northwest: Should I carry an umbrella or not? Since the move, there have been more rainy days than clear here and I've noticed that there aren't too many people with umbrellas. Sure I spot one here and there, but why aren't they everywhere? Why don't businesses have umbrella bins near their entrances so I can stash my umbrella until I'm ready to leave? Why isn't every store selling designer umbrellas, and why aren't street vendors shouting "umbrella!" from every corner? When it rains in San Francisco, you see umbrellas lined up—bobbing up and down the street—one in each hand. Oregonians seem to have a different relationship with the rain, and I feel self-conscious when I pop open my umbrella. I imagine that every long-time Oregonian turns when they hear that umbrella woosh and whisper under their breath how gauche, heads held high in the rain.
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People just don't use them up here as much as you would think! I did carry and use my Frank Lloyd Wright stained glass patterned umbrella last night, but so often it's drizzling, raining softly, or only a few minutes of heavier downpour -- or you are just dashing from the car to a building -- it's just not worth it.

For some it might be a macho thing.

But you can use an umbrella if you like. Just tough it out! (Or design a high-tech model with carbon fiber struts and a special pocket for a wifi device.)
Friends that lived Seattle have told me it's easy to spot the outsiders: they're the ones with the umbrellas. The locals seem to prefer the "throw your hood up on your Gore-Tex jacket" to umbrellas.
Umbrella usage definitely seems to be limited to folks from out of state... That's why people joke about Oregonians having moss in their hair, lol.
I spent four ten of my formative years growing up in the PNW (Spokane, Seattle, and Portland) and rarely used or had an umbrella. The rain jacket were the norm. One gets used to the rain and can do anything in the rain, even play tennis (get great spray off the rackets). Having lived in the PNW I was <em>sans</em> umbrella in England while I lived there, which was not the norm. Now I get happy when it rain as it reminds me of carefree days of childhood.
You must not be spending much time on campus - you'll see more umbrellas there, and even more on the U of O campus, where there are more furriners. That was where I learned the one good use for umbrellas: strap one on a backpack and you keep the (light) rain off you and your pack without wearing out your coat where the pack rubs. Other than that, well, the wind blows a bit here, and we like to pretend that we still work with our hands.
I'll echo the comments already posted: native Oregonians don't often use umbrellas. Non-natives use them all the time.

For example: I was born and raised here, and I only use an umbrella in situations where appearance is critical (important interviews, etc.). My wife, on the other hand, came to Oregon for college. She has an entire arsenal of umbrellas at her disposal. There are three in the umbrella stand by the door (umbrella stand!?!?!?), two in her car, one at work, etc.

I'm not so sure it's a macho thing as much as an act of resignation. The rain here is generally light and misty, but *constant*. Native Oregonians just surrender to it.

As for being self-conscious about using an umbrella: don't be. I may not use an umbrella often myself, but I don't know of anyone who disapproves of those who do.
I also think Campuses are where you see umbrellas most. Students walking miles, as opposed to just dashing through a shower to get into your car. The thing about the southern willamette valley (I'm from Eugene): it doesn't rain as much as people say it does or people from other states think it's just so damn foggy and grey, so things tend to stay wet and damp all the time. I moved to Portland a couple years ago, and while we get on average <b>45 more days with rain</b> than Eugene, we don't have as much fog, so at least to me it actually seems sunnier up here during the winter.
Just imagine if everyone used umbrellas when it rained. It probably wounldn't be a big deal in Corvallis, but up here in Portland it would create a major pedestrian traffic problem. I already curse the few people that use umbrellas because I just like my eyes too much. Those big ass golf umbrellas should be illegal.
Those of us who have lived here in Seattle for 40+ years or so, and morally superior for having beeen here before you, find the umbrella to be something that is made to lost on a bus, or in a coffee house. Therefore with forsight I wear a nice Pendelton 'Crusher' hat so I can forget it on a bus, or in a coffe house.
Thanks for all of the insider info. I think I'll have to invest in a good rain jacket and become one with the rain instead of fighting it. Or 'surrender' to it--however you want to look at it. ;) I'm sure I'll be able to find a good jacket/umbrella balance. But when in Rome...
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