Okay, here's a great piece of trivia: Which major US city buys the most sunglasses per capita?
Ask this question, and people usually suggest Miami, Honolulu, Phoenix...or the really crafty ones try San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The correct answer is gloomy, cloud-covered Seattle. Why? Because Seattlites don't need them for months at a stretch, and so they get buried and can't be found. And since people aren't used to picking up their sunglasses as a matter of habit, during the sunny season they leave them on restaurant tables, on buses, in waiting rooms...or walk out of the house without them for a day sailing and have to buy another pair down at the harbor.
I mention this because I have a similar problem with umbrellas. I'm constantly traveling without them and finding I need them; and once I have one, I'm bound to lose it.
But not this time. For once, I remembered to take an umbrella to London, and I resolved not to lose it. Be mindful, I told myself. Remember to pick up the umbrella. You're sitting down at this table. What are you going to do when you stand up? Look for the umbrella.
And it worked. I passed three full days in London with the umbrella along everywhere, and I arrived back home for once with the umbrella I set out with. (Or should that be 'the umbrella out with which I set'?)
However, I was so conscious of the umbrella the whole time that I left a present I'd bought for Pamela in a coffeeshop, never to be seen again. (The present, I mean. Not Pamela or the coffeeshop.) I could have bought a whole crate of umbrellas for the price.
The lesson, as is so often the case in bad science-fiction movies, is that one should not tinker with the cosmic balance of things. My role in the ecosystem is to provide umbrellas to something which presumably eats them (otherwise we'd all be up to our knees in the umbrellas I've lost). Deprive the Bumbershoot Beast of its natural prey and it will turn to other, more costly items.
From now on, I'm not going to pay any attention to keeping my umbrella, and if I still happen to have one toward the end of a trip I plan to place it on some sort of altar--a park bench would do--and sacrifice it to propitiate the Beast. I run into enough problems on travel already without deliberately courting cosmic retribution.