The Garver Poll

Modern Mailbag graphic for Lloyd Garver's Modern Times column, roundup of reader e-mail, 6-21-02 AP / CBS

We all like statistics, surveys, and lists. We like to know about public opinion and how the public's opinion compares to our own. So, when the editors at CBSNews.com asked me to compile some of my e-mail from readers, I realized that this was also an opportunity to present my personal survey on what Americans think and feel about the great issues of our day.

Gallup Poll people pay attention: Based on the number of e-mail responses I've received, I can conclude that, after gun control, the issue that Americans care about the most is not terrorism, not the economy, and not sex. It's Call Waiting. Frivolous lawsuits come next. Americans care a great deal about the SATs, they care more about doctors who sell their practices than they do about their cousins, and they don't care very much about Richard Nixon's daughters.

Perhaps these conclusions aren't based on unimpeachable research methods. However, they don't seem any less accurate than the Nielsen ratings, the latest survey that claims that people want the new color for M&M's to be purple, or those statistics that supposedly prove that dentists commit suicide more often than other people. (How could that be possible, anyway? You can only commit suicide once).

The beauty of our web page is in its name - Opinion. I give my opinion, and then I'm always happy to hear yours. It's especially gratifying for me to get your e-mail since I've only been writing the column for a short time. I read and respond to them all. Well, there has been one exception. Someone sent me an e-mail in which almost every letter was in a different font and different color. It looked like a ransom note from an old movie in which the letters are cut out from the newspaper. I decided I'd rather not have a relationship with this person. But other than that instance, I'm always thrilled to hear from you, regardless of whether or not you agree with me. The range of your opinions has been fascinating.

ON THE NRA WANTING BUSH TO THANK THEM FOR PUTTING HIM IN OFFICE:

Some people agreed with me.

Chris M: "It is always nice to see good people publishing well-reasoned articles in response to illogical statements from the gun lobby."

Darlene P. replied succinctly: "Amen."

Others respectfully disagreed with me. For example, Mike C. said I was "nothing more than a sensational &**##@@(EXPLETIVE DELETED) cintonista propagandist... scum liar..."


ON THE EVILS OF CALL WAITING:

Evelyn B: "Bless you for speaking out about call waiting."

Mark W: "Bravo!!!"

Robert B: "Call waiting per se should be outlawed."

Lawrence R: "The point is, not all calls have the same urgency..."

Pat R: "I don't agree with your opinion on call waiting. I have call waiting and caller ID call waiting and I think it is a valuable tool used properly."


ON THE PRESSURES OF THE SATs:

KE6@**** wrote: "Well done... I enjoyed your article. I am the parent of a high school junior who is living the SAT nightmare. ... Does this mean our teens will experience this level of competition for jobs, housing, etc. the rest of their lives?... it looks like there might be quite a need for shrinks in the years ahead."

Harry Q: "My daughter was just the victim of the SAT debacle. ...Thanks for your writings on this matter."

Ajay G: "I completely disagree with (you). The SAT is not a bogus test."


ON MY BEING DISAPPOINTED THAT OUR NATION'S CAPITOL GRANTED MIKE TYSON A BOXING LICENSE:

POWD@****: "Mr. Garver, I couldn't agree with you more."

Tutu@****: "How can this fiasco be prevented?"

Bridgette P: "Stop holding grudges, have a heart. Look how (Tyson) loves his children."


ON WHAT I SAW AS A RIDICULOUS WAY FOR KIDS TO SPEND THEIR SUMMER - INVESTMENT CAMP:

Carlton G. disagreed, saying: "I was extremely disappointed to read your opinion/article concerning the investment camp... What the United States needs, especially in economic times such as these, are younger generations to understand and appreciate the entrepreneurial spirit...."


ON MY "LET'S NOT SUE ANYBODY IN THE MONTH OF JUNE" MOVEMENT:

Chandler E: "Nice article - please forward it to the White House. We need Bush to read your article in his weekly address to the public. Thanks." (I did forward it, but I guess the President has been too busy to respond so far).

Robert W. added his own wrinkle: "Prior to the month of June, why don't we make one exception and sue all the lawyers for making us suit-happy."


ON GETTING A HORSE TO HELP GET YOUR KID INTO COLLEGE:

Marvin J: "... it makes you sound like a whiny urbanite. Which is only funny if you're Woody Allen. Sorry, dude, nothing is off in terms of what we value in our society. In fact the equestrian scholarships actually prove that we still value the right things; responsibility, courage, faith, endurance, heart and a winning spirit. "

Stan M: "Great article. My wife especially liked the eBay aspect."

BUSINE*****: "Nice funny, happy, sad story! I love you and Andy! Thanks for making me smile."

This last one was a huge boost to my ego. I was so excited to be mentioned in the same sentence with Andy Rooney. But then I thought, maybe this person wasn't talking about Andy Rooney. Maybe he or she was talking about some other Andy who lives down the street and who isn't particularly bright or interesting or funny. Some of these e-mails mess with your head.

Some of you have complimented and encouraged me in general:

Carrie P: "Keep up the great work!"

Mark W: "I appreciate your column... Keep up the good work."

LDIA@****: "Keep up the good work. You've gained a loyal reader."

And some have been, well, a tiny bit critical of me:

Richard G: "What an idiot!! I think if you really look in the mirror and think about what you have wrote (sic) that's what you'll see."

But your e-mails are my only connection to you - the only tangible evidence that you actually take the time to read what I have written. So, keep them coming. Without them I can't hear the yeas or the boos. And, of course, when I get an e-mail like the following one, it makes it all worthwhile:

"It's a gray, gloomy, rainy day here in Chicago but your column brightened my day. I liked it very much. It was very clever, and, as always, there's an extra funny punch line at the end."

Thanks, Mom.



Lloyd Garver has written for many television shows, ranging from "Sesame Street" to "Family Ties" to "Frasier." He has also read many books, some of them in hardcover.

By Lloyd Garver
  • Francie Grace

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