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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Getting those Florida weather reports

By Dick Hirsch

How was I to know it was a call to a cell phone? They gave me the number and urged me as follows: “Call Jerry. He is the man who can help you.”

I had never known Jerry, never heard of him, in fact, but since they assured me that he could provide the required assistance, I was delighted to call him.

Is it too early to digress? I hope not. Here goes: To digress for a moment, that is one of the peculiar aspects of cell phone usage. If a call is made to a certain local number, that person may be far, far away from his usual haunts. Instead of being at the office working, or even at home, relaxing, he could be in the car, on a golf course, dining with an important client...almost anywhere. There is no way of knowing, is there? And in many of those locations, the last thing the person is looking forward to receiving is an unexpected call, especially from someone he or she doesn’t know.

That brings me back to my call to Jerry. I repeat: I had no idea it was a cell phone, but I probably would have called anyway. So I did.

He answered after several rings and I introduced myself, explaining who suggested I contact him and the nature of the call. He took a few seconds to digest that information, then responded:

“I’m in Sarasota. It is 72 degrees.”

Why do people do that? Why do people in Florida feel compelled to report immediately on the temperature when they receive a phone call from the north? I apologized for disturbing him and told him I didn’t know he was in Florida; I thought he was in his office, right here on his home turf.

“I’m on a cell phone, here in Sarasota. It’s 72 degrees and sunny,” he repeated, “and I’m riding my bicycle. But I stopped to answer your call.”

What is the reason for stressing the weather? I have my own explanation, but I may be off base. Oh, well, I will answer a question with another question, a bad habit, but a procedure that can sometimes focus on the point most directly: Could it be that those people who either live there year around or else spend the winter in the south are striving to belittle those of us who choose to remain in snow country?

“Is it snowing up there?” Jerry asked.

Folks down there keep very close track of the weather reports up here, so I knew Jerry must have had a good idea that we were in a snow cycle. He was looking for confirmation.

“No,” I reported, truthfully. “It snowed a little during the night, but the streets are fine. No problems that I know of.”

Why do I always have the feeling that snowbirds like Jerry are always disappointed when they get news like that, positive weather news from up country?

I have my suspicions. Could it possibly be that it delights them and makes them feel the money they are spending for their Florida accommodations is a real bargain? Or is there another reason, a different rationale I have failed to consider?

These are serious questions, issues that are worthy of consideration by all the folks who remain behind, the folks who winter in cities like Buffalo, Rochester or Syracuse. Yes, of course the stay at homes do talk about the weather, sometimes even when it doesn’t deserve much conversation. But as a group, I can virtually assure you none of them ever received a call from a Florida resident, caught in a hurricane, tornado, typhoon or whatever other weather events they have there, and answered in the following manner:

“It’s a lovely spring day here, 65 and sunny.”

We just don’t react that way, perhaps because this part of the world has become so identified with blizzards and snow drifts that it has become a cliché. We endure, despite the negative reputation, and are unlikely to take any joy in the other guy’s troubles.

As it turned out, Jerry helped me to the best of his ability, but I actually was able to find a better source of information in Hamburg. I ended the conversation by apologizing once again for disturbing him during his bike ride and concluded with that familiar suggestion, “have a nice day.”

“Oh, they’re all nice down, here,” he said. “It may hit 80 tomorrow, but that’s a little too warm, don’t you think?”



At 12:43 PM, Blogger Brian said...

I had a similar experience yesteday. I called an 800 number. As I was waiting for her to bring up the information in the computer, she mentioned it was 70 degrees in Texas. Asked how it was in Buffalo. Very nice, but the same thing, except it was a busines call.


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