No matter which way the wind blows, it's tough sledding being a meteorologist.
I'm not a real meteorologist, of course. I didn't go to fancy meteorology school and learn the ins and outs of atmospheric pressure, cloud condensation nuclei, hygrometers or other words I just looked up on the Internet. I don't have a combination Doppler radar/toaster oven in my kitchen that determines the intensity of rainfall while heating up leftover chicken fingers.
I never wanted to be a meteorologist, but the role was thrust upon me by a family that believes because I desperately cling to the lower rungs of the news media ladder I have some inside knowledge about weather.
For years, my wife and daughter, at the hint of bad weather, have asked my "expert" opinion on whether the impending storm will be bad enough to delay and/or cancel work and/or school.
"Hmm... let me do some research," I tell them, stroking my chin as I imagine a real meteorologist would. Then I simply look at what the National Weather Service says.
"I've studied the models, taken into consideration the jet stream and run a couple of scenarios through the computer," is an example of a lie I might tell. "Because it's going to be colder than a well digger's hind end, there is a 74 percent chance that you will not go to work and/or school tomorrow."
If that turns out to be true, I am a good meteorologist and loved by all. If that turns out to be false, I am a bad meteorologist and scorned by those who purport to love me as they trudge off bleary-eyed to school and/or work.
But a forecast the family doesn't want to hear, is a no-win situation. That occurred with the most recent round of iffy weather.
"Do you think we'll have a two-hour delay for school tomorrow?" my daughter asked, obviously hoping for an affirmative response.
I checked the weather service. "No, the precipitation is staying north of us."
"Everybody on my Facebook page is talking about a two-hour delay."
"Well, everybody on my Facebook page is talking about Jesus, guns and microbrews. Do your homework and go to bed."
"I think we'll have a two-hour delay."
I took that as a direct challenge to my meteorological authority. How dare this smart-mouth teenager question my many years of pretending to know what I am talking about.
"Oh, really?" I said, my authoritative meteorological tone quickly shifting into heavy parental sarcasm. "Well, little missy, why don't you stay up late and listen to your phonograph records and do the Watusi and the Harlem Shake and then tomorrow when you're in class at the regular time you can tell the teacher you're too sleepy to do arithmetic and work on your penmanship because you thought there was going to be a two-hour delay."
I went to sleep that night confident in the omniscience of the National Weather Service, the Merlin to my southern-fried King Arthur.
I awoke to this declaration from across the hall: "Two-hour delay. You were wrong! Ha-ha!"
A meteorologist just can't catch a break around here.