I feel like a failure. For years, I have told you what a privilege it is to live in the great state of Georgia. We have beautiful mountains; pristine beaches; the oldest state-chartered university in the nation, located in Athens, the Classic City of the South; as well as Vidalia onions and more concrete fishponds than you can count. And we are unhappy. Where have I gone wrong?
A survey by Gallup-Healthways called the Well-Being Index released last month says Georgia is only the 31st happiest state in the nation. For those of you weary of seeing Georgia near the bottom of every ranking – thank goodness for Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi – you have to be comforted knowing 19 states are unhappier than we are, including – wouldn’t you know it? – Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi.
I wanted to get some analysis from Junior E. Lee, general manager of Round or Square Polls Inc., a division of the Yarbrough Worldwide Media and Pest Control Co., headquartered in Greater Garfield, Ga., but he was too upset to speak, which probably will knock our well-being index down another couple of notches.
What grinds my molars is not that Hawaii is the happiest state. After all, they have rainbows, pineapples and a U.S. president who claims he was born there. I can’t knock that. I think even Junior would give them a begrudging nod. But listen to next three happiest states: Wyoming, North Dakota (which I thought was in Canada) and Alaska (ditto.)
Notice anything these states have in common? Snow. Lots of snow. It is a proven fact that if you are subjected to snow long enough (like 10 months out of the year), it will freeze your brain and make you think you are happy just before your fingers and toes fall off. The only exception seems to be in the Northeast, where loud-talking, know-it-all Yankees move here and tell us what a bunch of ignorant rednecks we are.
Which leads me to examine the root cause of being only 31st in emotional well-being. Could it be that deep down inside we are unhappy because we think Yankees are correct; that we are a bunch of ignorant rednecks? I’m not sure about the redneck part, but I do know we don’t seem to be smart enough to understand why people come down here and criticize us but refuse to move back to the rusted abodes of their homeland. No question, we do have a lot to learn.
I am not going to be a bad sport and knock the states ahead of us, but let’s try to examine what might be making us unhappy. One problem, I do believe, is that Malfunction Junction, a.k.a. the city of Atlanta, is in our state. How it got here I never will know.
Atlanta adds very little to our quality of life. It takes too much of our water. Its sewers don’t work and the roads are full of potholes. Even the daily newspaper left town.
We also don’t have the swiftest Legislature in the world, and that scares a lot of us. You never know what they are going to do when they get together. It could be to arm preachers (“Repent! Or I’ll blow a hole clean through you!”) or allow legally baited fields so it is easier to shoot unarmed deer – if we arm preachers, why not deer? – or seeing just how miserable they can make life for public school teachers.
Kudzu also may contribute to our emotional instability. We have more kudzu than Yankees. I am hoping Gov. Nathan Deal will pick up on my idea to promote a new economic-development initiative called, “Watch Goats Eat Kudzu, Georgia.”
Based on the innovative program, “Go Fish, Georgia,” the hallmark of Deal’s predecessor, George E. Perdue, we would bus in tourists to watch goats eat the kudzu off the interstates and sell them potlikker and tell them it is moonshine. Once the goats have eaten all the kudzu, then they can go eat Atlanta.
By the way, Junior E. Lee just called to say that after he cooled down and thought about it, he believes the reason we told the pollsters we aren’t very happy is so nobody else will want to move here and tell us how ignorant we are and instead will move to Fargo, N.D., where their toes will freeze off. Junior says this definitely would improve our emotional well-being index. Junior is a genius.
Yarbrough can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Ga., 31139.