Dim Sum

Riding Hard

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78

I’ve worked a lot of charity auctions and at the bigger ones the organizers always used a local celebrity to introduce the items and for some reason most of the time it was the local weather forecaster. Since I live in what media people call “a small market” these forecasters are doing anything they can to attract attention and break into a larger market because you’d starve to death on the wages the local weather forecasters made. That’s why the one’s I’ve met had side jobs, like marrying people and providing the music as DJ’s for the after-party.

Years ago there was one weather forecaster who showed up frequently at auctions but he disappeared faster than my brother-in-law when the waitress brings the check. The weatherman left because the weather here didn’t agree with him. If he said there was no precipitation in the forecast you could expect a real gully washer, and if he predicted rain it would be so hot the chickens would pluck themselves.

I’d completely forgotten about the weatherman when one day out of the blue he called acting like we were long lost buddies. It seems the guy had been a victim of multiple career disorder because since I’d last seen him he’d been a realtor, a telemarketer, a pet food taster, portable toilet cleaner and a taxi cab driver. He’d come back home to take advantage “of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sell a product that was going to change the world.” He sounded so excited I wondered if someone hadn’t spiked his five hour energy drink. And what, was this revolutionary product, you might ask?

Solar panels!

He explained that he was going to be in the area making appointments and wanted to make sure I didn’t miss out on the greatest thing since the Segway®. I told him I was busy for the next few months but he showed up on my doorstep anyway. After getting his proverbial foot in the door he told me that if I signed up for solar panels on my house that the state would pay for all the labor and all I had to do was buy the panels. But I must act quickly because the offer expired soon.

I’d been wondering why I was seeing a host of new solar installations recently but I just figured that the panels were the latest status symbol and a way to say that you were greener than your neighbor.

I told the weatherman that there were five reasons why I didn’t want solar panels. First of all, I didn’t want anyone putting holes in my roof that might leak. Secondly, I didn’t want to disfigure the look of my house. Most of the installations I’d seen made the roofs look like the scoreboard at a major league baseball game. I expect them to flash an instant replay at any minute. Also, I knew that most, if not all, of the panels were made in China and I’d recently vowed not to buy anything made by communists or by slave labor. I’ve also always had a deep distrust of the government, especially when they start giving stuff away. Getting subsidized by the government to put panels on your house just seemed to me like shoplifting for rich people.

Finally I said, “I might be interested if they’d provide energy during the many blackouts we have since our energy provider went bankrupt. But I know that any electricity generated by my panels would go right back into the grid and if I wanted power during blackouts I’d have to pay $20,000 extra for a battery that might keep my refrigerator light on for a day or two.

He had no reply to my objections but instead pulled out a calculator and started showing me how much money the panels would save me and how they’d pay for themselves in just five years by lowering my electric bill. I explained that I planned to be decomposing by then.

“I know how much you like to save money,” the weatherman accurately said as he kept pounding numbers into his hand held calculator. “Darn it,” he said, “I was going to show you what a great deal this is but my calculator keeps going dim because there’s not enough light in here to power it.”

‘Hmmm. That sounds vaguely familiar,” I said smugly.

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