"After making a series of utterly horrible life decisions, I found myself working as a security guard in the early 1990s.
"On more than one occasion I was assigned to the venerable old Citizens Bank Building downtown. I worked alone — like 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. or something — and it was fairly creepy. To cut to the chase, it fell to me to change the weather ball. I don't know why, but I'd always kinda figured that the thing was, somehow, automated or a moderately high-tech deal. Actually, a guard climbs some rickety stairs to this funky, dank room (buzzing, loudly, with electrical current because it's right beneath that enormous sign) and there are three huge buttons on the wall — red, blue and yellow. Next to them is a telephone. The protocol is this: you call the National Weather Service, listen to the recording, do your best to interpret it, and hit the button(s). I think there was another button to make it blink 'in agitation...'
"In an odd way it was kind of deflating; it was like finding out that the Wizard of Oz — the man behind the curtain — was just an ordinary schmo like me. In fact, in this case, he was me.
"Final note: On a dare from my former wife, I purposely set the thing completely wrong one night simply to see if the world would grind to a halt.
Citizens Bank Photo: night sky and neon by lonniec61