Up in Westchester and certain parts of New Jersey, there are still thousands without electricity, and heat. With temperatures hovering around 35 degrees and lower at night, loss of power can be dangerous, not just uncomfortable. But for the most part, in New York City, the snowstorm the meteorologists “promised” didn’t materialize. The run on bread and water was unnecessary. The snow day some of the kids got turned out to be just a day off school. As I predicted, it snowed but nothing near the snow-capolypse you might have been expecting if you watched the weather broadcasts on TV. Why is that? Why does the weatherman always seem to get things so wrong? Meteorological reports are based on radar and satellite scans and yet, when they make their predictions, every weather event sounds like it will extreme. In general though, after a week of 75-and-mild conditions with not even a cloud on the horizon, most of us tune out of the weather broadcast. So when there is anything more than a mild drizzle or flurries in the forecast, can you really fault your weatherman for overselling it?
There’s a famous black church in my neighborhood called Abyssinian Baptist Church. It was one of those churches that became famous during the civil rights movement and even now, celebrities sit in the pews and grace the platform quite often. It’s the church to attend if you want to network because after midday service, you can invite someone out for a drink or brunch, something you probably wouldn’t do as casually if you came to my church on a Sabbath. Because of its name, Abyssinian Baptist is also one of the first sites on the list of Places to Visit In New York, so European tourists scouring the city for old churches as backdrops for their photos, line up every Sunday morning and wait, sometimes for hours, for a chance to sit in the balcony and observe the history for 10 minutes or so. Tourists waiting in line are a prime target if you want to sell something and there’s a man in the community who rides a bicycle, modified with a boom box on the back, and from there, he hawks gospel CDs to anyone who will buy. He comes out every Sunday morning dressed in a suit that could be on loan from a museum and sings out, announcing his custom wares. Any other time, his call might be an irritation but on Sunday morning, his voice lands on receptive ears and people listen. He is in his element. If he exaggerates the quality of the music on his CD, can you fault him?
Neither man intends to oversell their product – not the weatherman selling the prediction of a storm and not the CD vendor announcing that this is the best gospel in town. But it’s hard not to be enthusiastic about your pitch when you have such a captive audience.