Friday, November 10, 2006

Short people got no reason to carry umbrellas

This is the essay I was going on about in the last post. I rather like it, and other people liked it, so I figured I may as well post it.

Might be best if I mentioned this now: yes, I am short; and no, I never use an umbrella.

Every day our newspapers are practically exploding with stories about terrorist plots, global warming, random violence and a whole array of other terrifying hazards to our personal and collective wellbeing. But one particular safety threat always seems to get overlooked: short people with umbrellas. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against umbrellas, per se, or even short people. In fact, umbrellas are an excellent invention, the way they expand and collapse at the push of a button. Very ingenious. But it's the arms, or spokes, that allow them to do so that represent the problem; specifically the pointy bits on the ends. In the hands of a short person, these could have somebody's eye out.
But does that stop short people from wielding umbrellas? Not a bit of it. We've all seen them, those of us lucky enough to still have our sight, strolling through the streets on a rainy day, brazen as you like, not a care for anyone, umbrellas proudly and perilously aloft. But for all our sakes this recklessness needs to stop. That is why I say to you now, short people should stop using umbrellas.

I'm sure, right at this moment, there will be short people all across the land leaping up and down and screaming in indignation. And not just in an attempt to attract the attention of someone behind a shop counter. No, in protest at the patent unfairness of my proposal. Well, good. They're more prone to heart attacks, so they could probably do with the exercise. But seriously, why should the short be condemned to a life of damp misery? After all, it's not their fault they're short. Well, if they smiled more, they'd just be damp. But even their dampness could be eliminated. On those rare occasions when it's both raining and there's actually something worth leaving the house for, there's nothing to stop a short person simply wearing waterproofs, is there?

Well, answering on behalf of both myself and my fellow hobbits and oompa-loompas: yes and no. Frankly, being short is indignity enough, without being forced to dress in shiny bits of plastic. Not only does wearing waterproofs invariably make a person look ridiculous, but after just a few minutes you also start to feel like the contents of some kind of boil-in-the-bag meal for giants. But that's still no reason to risk the eyesight of those an inch or two taller than yourself by carrying an umbrella, is it? If you're short, either get over your vanity - you could use a step-stool if your legs aren't long enough - or, like me, get wet once in a while. I can assure you, it doesn't hurt. Unlike being poked in the eye with an umbrella spoke. Or walking into things because your depth perception isn't what it used to be.

I can still hear many voices being raised in protest, though. "Even if the above arguments are accepted, this umbrella ban is discrimination," they squeak, "and as such has no place in modern Britain." Assuming that these voices are those of short people, rather than the beginnings of a mental health problem, I would like to respond to their concerns. Yes, I agree entirely, this is discrimination. But it has never been wrong to discriminate between being safe and being sorry. Indeed, no society should fail to make such discriminations. It will ever be preferable that some get wet, than others get blinded.

The voices raise still graver concerns, though - what about the health risks short people will face as a result of frequent soakings? Is there not a very real danger that they will shrink? Perhaps even to a size where they might be trampled to death by a crowd of carelessly gangling tall people? Plainly this is absurd - short people, you see, don't actually get as wet as normal people. There are three reasons for this. First, smaller targets are notoriously difficult to hit; even for raindrops. Second, if you look at a short person, it is quite obvious that there is, in fact, less of him or her to get wet. And third, and most crucially, there is the Splashback Effect. In order to hit a short person a raindrop has to fall somewhat further. By the time it eventually hits its target, it will therefore have gathered additional momentum, thus increasing both the force of its impact and the resultant ricochet, or splashback, away from said short person. Hence, a lesser proportion of every raindrop actually remains on a short person than on a tall person. Given, then, that tall people have less natural water resistance, yet do not shrink, it is therefore clearly absurd to assume that a short person would.

Finally, some people will object that height is relative; any line drawn between short and tall will be no better than arbitrary; and those above that line will still be in danger from each other. To be frank, I don't care. I have proposed that short people stop using umbrellas, not for the safety of tall people, but for our own sakes. It will ensure that we don't have each other's eyes out, and if anyone unwise enough to be taller than, say, five foot ten gets an umbrella spoke in the eye, then at least they won't be sat in front of a short person at the cinema. We might be wet, but at least we'll be able to see the goddamn film for once.

As I have said already, unless we don't mind looking more ridiculous than we already do, we short people will get wet, but my plan is in our interests. It will not mean that we are being negatively discriminated against, we will not have anyone's diminished eyesight on our consciences, we will not become even smaller, and we may even get to enjoy more films. Clearly, then, it is the way to go: short people should stop using umbrellas.


Duncan Heaney said...

Now your other blog is known to me Bwa-ha-ha-ha.

Occasional Poster of Comments said...

Damn. And I'd made such an effort to hide it. What with that link on my other blog and my profile page :)

Occasional Poster of Comments said...

Stupid smiley face. I always regret writing those things.

Occasional Poster of Comments said...

Enough procrastination. Back to the work.

Occasional Poster of Comments said...

Ah, who am I kidding? You can never have enough procrastination. here I come. Damn you, Heaney. Damn you. And your distracting links.

Duncan Heaney said... now. It's called destroying the competition young one.

Occasional Poster of Comments said...

Woo hoo! Someone called me young.