A.A. Attitude: Fat, Sassy and Wanting to Stay That Way

Used to be, we'd hang over the back fence to find out what our neighbors were thinking. That was before the Internet, personal chat rooms, cellular phones, beepers and ubiquitous damn answering machines.

Now we take a poll, which, by the way, may be harder now that telemarketer-shy people with caller-ID don't answer their telephones anymore. A new poll taken this month by Anne Arundel Community College to gauge attitudes managed to catch enough people at home on a few evenings to come to some conclusions. Some contradictions, too.

Overall, people expressed satisfaction about their jobs, their pay and their lot in life.

Some key findings:

We're not feeling nearly as charitable as Gump, though, and therein lie contradictions in the survey. We want and expect the economy to soar on, but we don't want to pay a nickel more for education - the fuel we need to compete in the global economy.

Nor do we feel strongly enough about controlling growth that we don't take a big swing when the pollster tosses us a knuckle-ball. When people were asked whether the county "should more actively encourage growth and development to provide additional jobs closer to home," 63 percent responded yes.

You can interpret that one in different ways. Dan Nataf, director of the college's Center for the Study of Local Issues, saw a contradiction. "The thought of being able to stay in county to do more things is happiness. I'm wondering how else to interpret this. What is the mindset that is saying yes and no [to growth] at the same time?"

A more cynical analysis might be that even people who see sprawl and unwise growth as the biggest threat to their smooth-flowing lives in this, the end of the 20th century, will change their tunes if something promises a bit more convenience.

Next time, they ought to ask this question: "Do you think that your quality of life will continue to improve if we let our school buildings crumble and put a strip mall across the street?"

We don't need a poll to answer that one.

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VolumeVI Number 16
April 23-29, 1998
New Bay Times

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