Bag Bob and the Weather Ghouls
Bob "Lunch Bag" Black was sitting
on a bench on the fringes of Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, USA. It was a bright spring day. Lunch hour. Lunch
Bag looked like Joe Friday needing a bath. Stained dark suit,
rumpled white shirt, tie limp as a snake that had just been
forcibly milked of its venom. He had the kind of face you can't
remember, the way you can't visualize your last mound of mashed
potatoes. I sat beside him, the only seat in the shade. He just
"I had it all, almost. House on the main line, almost paid
off. Almost making six figures. Saab and a Taurus, almost paid
for. Wife. A kid, almost paid for, I mean summer camps, karate
lessons, braces. . . I'm a victim of sexual harassment."
"You mean a woman was harassing you?"
"No, the other way around. I'm the perpetrator."
He laughed ironically.
"I was the closest thing to faithful. Everybody was doing
everybody else. That's how it is in public accounting. All these
Type A obsessive-compulsives working long hours, taking business
trips together, suffering tension that has to be relieved, living
by the mantra 'In at 8, out at 8, charge 8' . . ."
"So what happened?" I asked.
"I'm unemployable, that's what."
"I mean, the sexual harassment?"
"It had to do with computers," he muttered. "My
laptop went down. I had to print out a spreadsheet. Fast. I
went over to a woman in taxes and pleaded, 'Can I put my floppy
into your hard-drive?' Busted! Now I'm in the park and she's
"You're kidding! Any job prospects?"
"Are you kidding?"
"What are you gonna do?"
Lunch Bag shrugged.
"What really gets me is the Weather Channel. I have as
much stress from it as I do from being jobless. Every time I
watch, we're in the red zone."
"You mean, threat of storms."
"And damaging winds, hail, flash floods, and dangerous
air-to-ground lightning. Not to mention the fact that any thunderstorm
can and probably will produce a tornado at any time."
"I know what you mean," I replied soothingly.
"Have you noticed how many tornadoes there are now? This
month alone, there were warnings all over Pennsylvania--in Lancaster
County, Bucks County, Montgomery County, and Delaware County.
We even have tornado alleys in Limerick, home of PECO's nuclear
reactor, and in Chester County's mushroom patch. For last week's
twister, they listed the towns in the path of destruction. Lima,
Media, Yeadon, South Philly. All still standing by the way.
When we were kids, whoever heard of tornadoes? It's ratings.
They want to scare the shit out of you. And you have to take
them seriously because if you don't you could wind up wandering
around like a zombie wondering whose back yard your Penthouse
collection blew into."
"Sure, sure," I could see Lunch Bag becoming very
"And the ghouls!" he ranted. "They turn everything
into a crisis. They send their intrepid meteorologists on location
to some mall in St. Louis to do live coverage of a drizzle.
Meanwhile, in the background, seniors on crutches and walkers
and double amputees in wheelchairs are inching their way into
a 7-Eleven. Not even carrying umbrellas. The Weather Channel
should lose a meteorologist or two, just to be credible. Like
real war correspondents. We need Weather Martyrs. Let's have
Heather Tesch's head bashed in by hail the size of grapefruit,
or Jim Cantore drown in a storm surge."
"Well, Heather's the cutest meteorologist on the weather
"The worst is Dave Schwartz. He turns a morning mist into
the Angel of Death. He uses the first person. Like 'We're having
a rough time of it tonight in Berwyn, PA.' Not you, Dave. You're
safe like Hitler in a concrete bunker three hundred feet below
Atlanta. I'm the one cowering in my crawl space wearing a bicycle
helmet. . . I want my weathermen on thorazine. Like Ben Stein."
© Jack Israel
© Pam Winters 2001
Another Pam Winters cartoon
©2000-2002 Frigate: The Transverse Review of Books www.frigatezine.com
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