and as I sit near the drying warmth of the heater meet the press drones on in the background under the percolating coffee maker. For the past 7 springs, the pattern seems to be periods of heavy rain followed by 1/2 hr to 1 hour windows of sun and storm breaks, occasional hail, fog or rainbows. The rain isn't so heavy that you get completely soaked, maybe it's more of getting used to getting wet. Sometimes I use an umbrella, and local people I know who see me with it laugh, and say things like, "You can tell she's not from around here." I personally think there's nothing wrong with using an umbrella, especially if it's instrumental in keeping you dry. If I'm not using it it's because I forgot it somewhere.
And that's the other downside to having an umbrella: it's one more awkwardly shaped item to lose throughout the course of your day. I'm always forgetting it in the car, or leaving it at work, and occasionally forgetting it at the doctor's office, mechanic's, friend's house, you get the picture. So I don't invest much in an umbrella.
The umbrella I'm using now I got from our sales rep at the local newspaper. We place so many thousands of dollars worth of ads it's the least they could do. I would have preferred a plain black umbrella, but this one is very brightly colored, each panel is a different color: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple. It's nice, but too brightly colored to allow me to blend in. I swear everyone notices it. So, for example, I'm at work parked in the back parking lot. I use my umbrella to stay dry (!!) on my way into the building. On my way upstairs to my desk, I pass several people who say things like,
"Saw you through the windows, boy what a colorful umbrella! I don't use one..." or
"hey anyone can see that you're not from around here a mile away!" or
"so whereabouts east are you from?" or
"wow so you use an umbrella?"
I feel like just carrying a leaflet with me, and as I encounter people who want to have a repeat conversation, I can just hand them a FAQ sheet that addresses all of these points. I swear I must pass about 10 to 20 people that would want to stop and comment.
You know, for a giveaway item from a vendor, that umbrella I got from the sales rep isn't too bad. I've had it for a while now, maybe a year, and it's not bent, doesn't seem cheap, handles a significant amount of abuse and still works well. It has that button activated spring-loaded extendo thing, that I seem to enjoy much more the my cat does.
Whenever I go to job fairs, I try to get out and get around to see what the other vendors are giving away. Sometimes we trade items, and most of the time other vendors have candy. I usually bring coffee cups to job fairs, and that's a pretty cool item to give away.
Some vendors give away absolute crap. Cheap plastic things nobody will ever use that break and take up space in the landfill. It's awful, if you're going to give something to someone, it should be of relatively good quality. It has to last at least a little while.
Many vendors give out those stress ball squeezy things. I was next to a Federal Express booth once, and she had airplane squeezy key chain things that said "Federal Express" on it in purple and orange. The girl working that booth told me that I could put it on my key chain, and when I was in traffic all stressed I could squeeze it and relieve the urge to ram all of the other vehicles around me. She also had these nice purple pens that wrote really well. Like you were writing on velvet with a smooth gel. I still have them and use them.
At another job fair, I was next to the Department of U.S. Customs or something, some government related entity that was responsible for border patrol down there on the U.S.-Mexico border. They guy at the booth kept trying to talk me into it, which I thought was weird considering I was employed at the time and for about the same pay, my job had significantly less risk to my well-being on a daily basis. The most I had to worry about was a disgruntled empl0yee yelling at me, and I can't remember that happening more then once. But he had some nice giveaways to entice potential applicants. I managed to score a few "U.S. Customs and Border Patrol" post it notepads, I also obtained a red laser light key chain thing, which is also higher-end giveaway stuff and pretty cool. I probably gave him a couple of coffee cups.
My last job had nice giveaways too, but my boss was such a micro manager, she'd only dole out a couple of nice things and then give me tons of really crappy pens to give away. Applicants would pick the pens up, hold them, then say, "No thanks," and put them back on the table. That's pretty bad considering applicants take anything.