Jeff Wallace

Jeff Wallace

One of my favorite corporate slogans belongs to Morton Salt.

The company that produces everything from road salt to table salt to Himalayan pink salt tosses out the five famous words, “When it rains it pours.” Not that we in our current drought situation would know anything about rain.

That phrase along with the image of a girl holding an umbrella being pelted in a shower were on the tarp that the Atlanta Braves pulled over the infield during rain delays when I was an everyday viewer of their games. If I turned on the TV and saw the Morton Salt girl, I knew there was rain in Atlanta.

In thinking of Morton Salt, its slogan and the gal in the rain, I immediately started pondering the umbrella. It’s a pretty ingenious engineering feat. A piece of waterproof fabric on a stick that can unfold to 4 feet in diameter, it can collapse into a 3-foot long rod that hardly takes up any space.

The need for umbrellas in recent months has been almost nonexistent, but the discussion in my head (Does it sound crazy for me to discuss things like this inside my own brain?) brought back a memory from years ago.

There were three major differences in this memory from the way things are today. We were living in a house a few miles from our current residence, we had two dogs that have since passed on and it was pouring rain. It was such a deluge that one almost felt wet while standing inside.

In spite of the rain, it was morning and the canines had been cooped up inside all night. It was time for their morning call-of-nature response.

Maggie was a lab-chow mix and the most loyal, sweetest dog imaginable. When I opened the garage door to the backyard, she saw the torrents and reluctantly realized that, like it or not, she had to do her morning business – in a hurry.

Peri was a Lhasa Apso with a disposition that only the lady of the house could appreciate. And she was the only one he appreciated. For him, water was good only for drinking and nothing else. Rain? Forget it. He didn’t even like getting the pads of his paws wet.

When the door was opened he regarded the rain, turned to me and if he could have spoken would have said, “You must be an idiot if you think for a moment I would ever consider going outside in weather like this.”

He turned and walked back into the kitchen. Other things could wait.

Then it was my turn and the thought of umbrellas. Oh, we had umbrellas. And where were they? One was in the back seat of the car. OK, there was no reason to get myself soaked running out to the street to get that one.

The other was in my golf bag. That, by the way, was in the trunk of my car. Umbrellas have a way of doing that – being in the place where they are hardest getting to when they are needed the most. I think they are taught that at umbrella school as a cruel way of getting people to buy more umbrellas.

That day all those years ago, I think rain got the best of me. It was one of those downpours where 15 seconds would leave one soaked to the skin.

It’s the day I learned my lesson. Now there are umbrellas almost everywhere. There are two umbrellas in the garage – three if I count the one in my golf bag. I grab one of those just in case it is raining when I need to make a break for the car.

Inside my car there are two. One folds up to 12 inches long and is nestled into the door pocket of the driver’s side. The other is a huge golf umbrella that can easily hold a foursome beneath its sprawling canopy. There are three umbrellas in my wife’s SUV – one near the driver’s door and two in the back.

We are pretty much covered these days. There is just one problem: no rain. I’m considering calling the Morton Salt folks with an idea for a new slogan: “If it rains, we’ll pour.”

Jeff Wallace is a retired editor of the Aiken Standard.