WASHINGTON, DC - Speaking candidly from his desk in the nation's capital, Rusty "Snowball" Harrington glances peacefully through the open window located behind him. Raising his nose, he sniffs at the breeze wafting through the screen, and he dramatically to himself. He's in his own place and time, oblivious to the reporter seated before him.
"Did you know," he begins, "that there's a thirty percent chance of rain this afternoon? If it comes, then it'll come sometime between 3:42 pm and 4:27 pm - right in time to cause significant delays with today's evening commute? I know it for certain. I just smelled it in the air."
Herrington is doing precisely what he's done best over the last four years. As the East Division's Administrative Rain & Sleet Director (ARS) of the National Weather Service, he predicts the day's precipitation - or lack thereof - for the thirteen states that fall in his jurisdiction and then distributes his predictions via email and Twitter to the various staffers, groups and organizations supported by routine duties. With his track record of forty-one percent accuracy, Herrington's predictions are nothing to be taken lightly.
"The guy before me," he muses, "his name was Tinkers-Blott. On a good day, he couldn't see rain if it puddled on his bald head. He couldn't predict moisture if he wet his own bed. At best, he managed a thirteen percent accuracy, and God only knows how he did that unless it was from a lucky coin toss.
"I'm the real deal," he insists.
However, serving the public in such a critical role isn't without the shortcomings. Herrington and his fellow prognosticators have long since tired of being dismissed from the glory and the spotlight so common to other federal agencies. Gone are the days when handwritten accolades from private citizens spilled out of the NWS mailboxes. Now, Herrington and his co-workers are left only with their desks, their keen sense of smell, and the privacy of today's weather.
"It used to be that you could count on somebody's elderly grandmother from Hoboken writing in to thank us for predicting the rain that watered the three tomato plants she keeps - in violation of her Homeowners' Association agreement - growing just off her front steps," he explains. "Inner city preschoolers used to send me these great crayon drawings of them playing in the downpour, saying things like 'thank you for making it rain because I haven't had a bath in two weeks!' It was the kind of thing that'd make you day a little bit brighter. But now? Nothing. Not a peep out of even the ungrateful rednecks."
Herrington waxes on about how nice it would be to have the staff of the NWS embroiled in some national disgrace, or, at the very least, a kind of degenerate sex abuse scandal so common to daily lives of elected politicians. He wonders why he can't get 'sweetheart mortgage deals' from such government sponsored entities as Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. And he pines for the day when he can be caught running illegal guns to Columbian drug-lords if for no other purpose than to give him a few moments of pride he can share with his elderly father, his wife and their two children.
"We've all agreed here at the NWS that we're going to take a month off of weather predictions," Herrington states. "Call it a work stoppage or a strike, if you want, but that's what we're going to do. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder? Well, let the ol' ladies at Margaret's bridge club not know whether or not they need an umbrella when they leave the house, and then we'll see how much the windbags appreciate the fucking sprinkles."