Thursday, October 27, 2005

Under Pressure

I read the other day that David Letterman, long before his “Late Night” times, was fired from his job as a weatherman for congratulating a tropical depression on being upgraded to a hurricane. (The people who fired him are probably the same people who thought parachute pants were a good look for the American fashion plate – but that’s for another time.) You can’t seriously think your local weather person sat with her/his high school guidance counselor and plotted a career path to become a weather person. (What kinds of classes would the counselor recommend? Guessing 101? Looking Good in Galloshes 253?) Sure, there’s the occasional visionary out there who figures it would be a cake walk to “forecast” the weather on one of the local stations in San Diego. “Today, it will be a high of 75 and a low of 60. Tomorrow, it will be more of that, and the next day will be more . . .” Besides my mother-in-law, who truly digs the weather, you’ll be hard pressed to find someone with weather in their veins. (I seriously wrote that last sentence with absolutely no intentional play on words – but you gotta admit, it was pretty funny.) Using my mother-in-law as an example, no matter how questionably grooved she gets on tracking barometric pressure, she has a real job.

Take, for example, the job title: Meteorologist. First off, I have never turned on the six o’clock news to find Ms. Shiny Smile telling me about a low-pressure system exacerbated (I’m not sure if they’re allowed to use that word before prime time) by a couple of errant meteors zeroing in on Ames, Iowa. Secondly, how many times have you watched a movie whose clever plot line details the efforts of the Global Village coming together, despite centuries-long differences of religion and regionality, to devise a plan to destroy an earth-shattering meteor, and the Lindsay Wagner character pipes up and says, “You know, we’ve smoked enough cigarettes and downed enough anti-depressants to make this place look like the backstage of a fashion show. And we’ve gotten nowhere. We need to call a meteorologist.” And then she crushes the office chair next to her with one hand, in slow motion.

Think about the word “meteorologist”. The Latin root “logist” denotes someone who is absolutely powerless but thinks he’s a smarty pants (loose translation). A meteorologist has absolutely no control over the weather. With all the recent hurricanes, you have your local “meteorologist” giving you very specific detail: “As you can see from the radar image, Hurricane Chuck will proceed in a north by northeast direction for 17.2 miles. At that point it will stop at Key West for a few drinks at Margaritaville and then proceed due north to catch a Miami Heat game. He’ll be joined by Anna Nicole Smith courtside . . .” Come on, this is the same guy who can’t even tell you if it’s going to rain in Seattle tomorrow.

As I said, “logist” is society’s way of saying “Nice Try”. Think of some of the other “logists” out there: astrologist (oh, yeah, that’s a helpful line of work); psychologist (they didn’t quite make it to psychiatrist); and scientologist (heck, they can’t even control Tom Cruise’s zaniness).

1 comment:

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