At first Jennifer was grateful for the Weather Authority’s decision to hire a second person to join her one-woman writing operation. For months, she’d been penning the two-line summaries for nearly every major region in the United States, with a handful of outsourced writers refining descriptions for more specific forecasts.
Manny was seated at a desk brought into the office that Jennifer had previously enjoyed alone. Over the past six months, she had covered the walls with print-outs of her favorite poems and glossy photos torn from her college meteorology textbooks: tubular clouds, water spouts, supercells. She wasn’t looking forward to sharing space with her colleague but was hoping he would provide her some relief.
“I’m guessing you have some experience with this?”
“I was with Weather Vane for years, but they’ve outsourced everything. Downsized,” said Manny.
Weather was a difficult industry, Jennifer knew. Specialists like her were simply trying to package public information, make it more digestible. She motioned for Manny to pull over his chair, so he could view her computer monitor.
“We should use the same style, for consistency’s sake,” said Jennifer. “I start with clouds, move to precip, mention the highs and lows. Then cover wind. Industry standard.”
“I’ve actually read your work,” said Manny. “It’s one of the reasons I wanted the job. Because I think we see eye to eye.”
Jennifer nodded and began typing.
“Mostly cloudy skies with a few showers later in the day.” She dictated before interrupting herself. “This is silly. Why don’t you try a few on your own?”
Manny smiled and returned to his desk.
“I’m tackling the Los Angeles 10-day,” he said, after a few minutes. “What do you think? A mainly sunny sky. High near 70. Winds southwest at five to 10 miles per hour.”
Jennifer considered Manny’s description as she stared at the photo on the wall in front of her: an image taken from an airplane flying over a weather phenomenon called a Morning Glory cloud formation, long bands of clouds painting white stripes in the sky.
“Is there a reason you used the singular?”
“The singular. ‘Sky,’” said Jennifer. “As opposed to ‘skies.’”
“‘Sky’ is the technical term for atmosphere and cloud cover and all that,” he said. “You use ‘skies’? That’s funny. I hadn’t noticed.”
“Well, regardless, we should be consistent.”
“Why ‘skies,’ though?”
“Because I’m not writing for myself. I’m writing for the millions of people in, say, Los Angeles. And for each person’s sky, collectively their skies,” said Jennifer. “I know it’s silly. But they’re all looking up with unique perspectives.”
Manny was considering the photo of the Morning Glory formation.
“Before we decide on how to maintain consistency, do you think I could move some of these photos?” He asked. “I’d like to make my own space.”
Photo by Patrick Emerson