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I guess this is really a question about gender etiquette. Leaving an office building after a business meeting recently, it was raining cats and dogs. My co-worker didn’t have an umbrella, so I unfurled mine in the gusting wind and held it high enough to shelter us both. At one point, on our trek through the sheeting rain, she handled the umbrella while I fumbled around in the pockets of my windbreaker for my car key. We reached her car first. I waited while she opened the door and left the shield of my umbrella before handing it back to me saying, “Thank you, George.” I proceeded to my car the next row over.
My question is this. On all fronts my female counterpart and I are equally compensated by our company, and we always pay for our own meals when we’re on the road. Nonetheless, it felt strange having her hold the umbrella. Should I have been more of a gentleman and taken the umbrella back from her once I had my car key in hand? Or was it more correct for us to take turns managing the umbrella? It was mighty windy.
–GN, Seattle, W