A really well thought-out umbrella, like the one Erich Baumann has on his workbench that day, obviously doesn't have the motif of a blue sky interspersed with white clouds on top, on the roof.
But as a decoration on the inside.
The umbrella sky shines on the owner, not on the outside world!
One has to travel a long way to come to this realization.
Out of curiosity and out of necessity, the author drove a three-hour drive south to Switzerland, just before Bern, to visit the last umbrella repairer, as it is called in Schwyzerdütsch.
Erich Baumann, 55 years old, has rented a place in a former school building.
Ten tons of metal are stored in boxes, cupboards, drawers, on shelves, organized in a system that only he knows.
Windows and light all around.
When he's alone and engrossed in his work, Pink Floyd music blares out of the speakers.
He doesn't like to talk about the weather
Usually one does not deal with screens.
An umbrella is an umbrella, flies into the corner, lies, stands safely in the closet at home most of the time, sits ready to hand and at the same time carelessly in the trunk and is annoying if you have it with you and it stays dry.
For a long time, there was a perceived certainty that over the course of the year it rains more than it is dry, but this is just beginning to dissipate during excessively long dry cycles.
But Frankfurt am Main, for example, still has an average of 173 rainy days.
Erich Baumann doesn't like to talk about the weather.
He's used to journalists now.
Everyone who travels to the interview brings a dose of poetry with them.
Repairing umbrellas is like free jazz because it's an art of improvisation.
Or: A broken umbrella looks as miserable as a bird with a broken wing.
In fact, Baumann is interested in the craft.
For handle, slider, umbrella stick and umbrella crown.
For the eight fragile spokes, called Stängli in Schwyzerdütsch;
for the eight Spitzli that border the cover on each Stängli.
One only understands what Baumann achieves when one understands that in the systematics of a lively consumption and throw-away automatism a repair is not intended at all.
There are therefore no spare parts.
Baumann is therefore always on the lookout for it.
Because there are masses of umbrellas, he has set up an extensive stock.
Lost, forgotten boulders left on the train that nobody is looking for are brought to his depot via collection points in shops and department stores that offer a repair service.
The craftsman is a media star in his home country
The amazing thing is that business is going well.
Baumann was a guest on a Swiss talk show.
The big popular magazines and the Südwestrundfunk from Stuttgart reported about him.
At the beginning of the year, a Swiss customer magazine portrayed him, circulation: 2.1 million copies, headline: "He doesn't leave anyone out in the rain." Since then, the postman has been ringing the bell every day and bringing up to ten umbrellas.
Baumann is benefiting from the wave of sustainability: Customers want to set an example and are now taking cheap umbrellas from the drugstore to the umbrella doctor, even though the repair cost almost 20 euros more than the new price.Keywords: