Friday, March 23, 2007

The New York Times Needs New Fact Checkers

There is a man in my office whose job is to complain about everything. He is the living, breathing, grousing definition of a curmudgeon. If you told him this, he would complain about it.

Most days he wanders around the office mumbling his complaints under his breath. In the past, whenever he would walk past my door doing this I would assume he was talking to me, so I would ask, “Were you talking to me?” As it turns out, he wasn’t. But now he was. And I would be on the hook for a conversation about jammed staplers or liberal hypocrites. In time I learned to ignore him, so now while he paces slowly past my doorway muttering about how tired he is and how multivitamins are a sham, I simply keep my head down and pretend to be engrossed in something else, such as writing about him.

His two greatest enemies are The New York Times and the weather. I would call the Times his nemesis (because while he objects to everything they write, he respects them enough to read it every day nonetheless) but the weather is his archenemy. He would destroy the weather if he could, bringing it to its knees in a heap of climactic variables never to change again. Sometimes I feel bad for him. I picture him walking out of his apartment building every morning, looking up in the sky and thinking, “So we meet again, weather.” I don’t understand the intricacies of their bond, such as how he intends to defeat weather or what happened to him in his childhood to make him so loathe temperatures and barometric pressure, but I honestly believe that on his death bed he will laugh a sanctimonious laugh that last week’s cold front will have been his last.

Today when he came back from lunch, he was particularly grumpy, almost livid, insofar as someone who falls asleep at their desk can be livid. Apparently The New York Times reported that it wouldn’t start raining until this evening, yet, YET, it was raining now! There he was, umbrellaless, damp, indignant.

You could hear the excitement in his voice, excoriating his nemesis and his archenemy in one breath. “The New York Times . . . they can’t even get the weather right!” As though the news, the reporting of factual events, were the hard part, but predicting cause and effect relationships of the solar system’s dynamic environmental conditions, that was a breeze.