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Two hours and 25 minutes: a new record!

That’s right, I recently broke my previous record (four hours) for the time it took me to buy a convenience store umbrella and have it taken by someone else. In the past it was always my own fault – a bar here, a convenience store there – but this time the thief was brazen.

A Japanese friend gave me some advice when I moved to Japan in 2006: “There are two things that are routinely stolen in this country: bicycles and umbrellas.” I feel fortunate that to date I have never had a bicycle stolen (though I did unwittingly ride my neighbor’s “secondhand” bicycle for a time) but seem to lose umbrellas with alarming regularity.

This time was no accident. There was no similar-looking umbrella left in its place, no possibility that this wet bandit could have absentmindedly picked up the wrong one. This was an act of selfish desperation by a particularly soggy individual.

“Buy a compact umbrella and keep it in your bag!” friends have told me. I’m not a compact guy. And I don’t have the 15-20 minutes required to unfold and secure one of those spindly monsters before going out, nor the patience to do the entire thing in reverse after escaping indoors. I need something sturdy, something with a minimum diameter of 70cm, something that can at the very least keep the bulk of my body from getting soaked. A compact umbrella during the rainy season is like eating soup with a fork; sure, you’re making the effort, but you haven’t thought it through.

In these dripping times, I must constantly remind myself to pick up my umbrella on the way out. Sometimes I tie a string to my finger, or draw a picture of an umbrella on my hand. Yesterday I wrote on my arm, “Hey, doofus! Don’t forget to pick up your umbrella on the way out of the Meitetsu Department Store! By the way, have you tried those new banana chips? Grab a bag before you go! Or don’t, I dunno.”

If you have any information leading to the recovery of my poor umbrella, please notify me ASAP.

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