"Hello, Federal Office of Economic Assistance. How may I direct your call?"
"Uh, yeah, I need to talk to someone about a stimulus project."
"OK, what state are you with?"
"OK, sir, are you a legislator or some other sort of government official?"
"Uh, neither. I'm just a local guy."
"OK. A mayor, a councilman?"
"Just a guy."
"Just a regular person? You're not a government official?"
"Just an average guy. But I've got a really good project."
"Sir, I'm afraid we have to go through certain channels here."
"But I really need this project. It'd put a lot of people to work."
"Sir, you really must go through your elected officials. We don't hand out this money to just anybody."
"Unless it's a bank."
"But I need this. I want to build something."
"Sir, I really don't -"
"No. Listen to me. I need to build something and I need federal dollars to help me do it. It has to do with wetlands."
"Wetlands? Now, sir, the federal government takes the protection of wetlands very seriously."
"I don't want to protect them. I want to protect myself from them."
"I want to build a barrier of some sort. To stop the rain."
"Stop the rain?"
"Yeah. It won't quit raining. I want to make it stop."
"Sir, the government doesn't have the capability to stop the rain. Controlling the weather is beyond our control, though I do understand someone is working on it."
"You're misunderstanding me. I know you can't stop the rain. I just want to keep any more from landing in my yard. What's left of it."
"What's left of it?"
"Yeah. Most of my front yard is in my backyard, and the backyard is in the creek. We don't park our cars anymore, we moor them. I have to take a ferry to the mailbox."
"Sir, you're not really making sense."
"We had a drought see. For, like, ever. Then it started raining, and now it won't stop. I don't own any dry shoes. The guy next door? He's been bass fishing off his deck. And I think I have moss growing in my ears. I can't take it anymore. I need something to be dry. So if we build this barrier, the rain won't be able to get me."
"What sort of barrier, sir?"
"A roof. Over my whole yard. And then maybe a berm of some sort to block the runoff."
"Like a levee? You want to build a levee in your yard?
"Out of earth?"
"I was thinking concrete."
"Oh, of course. Concrete."
"It's really been raining. Plus I figure concrete costs more, so it'll put more people to work."
"Uh huh. Let me see if I've got this straight. You want to build some sort of roof to cover your entire yard and then build a dam around it. To stop the rain."
"Yep. It'd put a lot of people to work. Jobs, materials. And I know I'd be happier. It's all very stimulating."
"Unlike this conversation. Sir, I don't really have time fo-"
"But you've got to help me. There's plenty of money to go around. When you run out you just print more. Plus, those signs on the roadside telling us that we're passing a stimulus project? I heard those cost $1,200 a piece. Now certainly you can find a few hundred thousand for my roof and dam."
"I'm hanging up now."
"No! Wait! You have to help!"
"Federal Office of Economic Assistance."
"Yeah, this is Mr. Thurston T. Moneybags with Supermega Bank of the Universe. The gold handle on my toilet broke. I need another one. And my jet needs washing."
"Yes, sir. Will a million dollars be enough?"
"Make it two."
"Yes, sir. I'll just transfer the funds."
"Such a nice man."
E-mail Nate McCullough at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Fridays.