Best and Worst

You no doubt have spent the last several weeks in sweaty anticipation of the results from the Daily Herald’s Best and Worst of the Valley survey. Or perhaps you never knew the survey existed and have spent the last several weeks in sweaty anticipation of nothing. Either way, I know you’ve been sweaty about something, because you’ve sounded extra-moist the last few times I’ve talked to you.

The survey asked readers to name the best and worst businesses, restaurants, bookstores, writers and various other things in Utah County. The results are published in today’s newspaper, in place of the news, which we’re pretty sure no one reads anyway. (But leave the horoscopes out one day and watch the switchboard light up like the aurora freakin’ borealis!)

One of the voting categories was for Best Cemetery (or Cemetary, as the ad spelled it — hey, they’re advertising guys. If they could spell, they’d be journalists). That’s right, they wanted people to name which of the area cemeteries they felt was best. And I’m glad they did, because I’ve been waiting to sound off for quite a while now. The Provo City Cemetery is a fine one. Once dead people are buried there, they stay buried for good. The Orem Cemetery, though, oh my goodness, that’s a Mickey Mouse operation if ever I saw one. Many is the time I’ve wandered through those cemetery grounds, only to see dogs digging up corpses from freshly dug graves, dragging the decomposing remains of my loved ones all over the lawns. Plus, that cemetery is always accidentally burying living people, which frankly ruins all credibility for a cemetery, in my book. Thank you, Daily Herald, for finally giving us a chance to express our disdain for the sloppily run cemeteries (and cemetaries) in our community! If Provo doesn’t win for Best Cemetery/Cemetary (they wouldn’t let me see the results before I wrote this), I’ll cancel my subscription!

I wish that, among the 5,000 categories in the survey, they had included a few more. Since they didn’t, here are my votes anyway.

Best Headline from Daily Universe (the BYU student newspaper) on Sept. 21: “Athlete found ill in Sydney, Olympic games continue.” Unlike the other times athletes have gotten sick, and the whole Olympics got canceled.

Best Sign I Saw at Albertson’s the Other Day: “American Express Welcomed Here,” with “Welcomed” underlined. Is the emphasis necessary? Are there places where American Express is accepted, but only grudgingly, where they’ll glare at you as they swipe your card and then shove it back in your face, maybe with a handful of spit?

Best Recent Experience Involving Pizza: We ordered Five Buck Pizza the other night (which, by the way, has never cost five bucks any time I’ve ever ordered it, but that’s beside the point). On the box, underneath the name of the place, it says, “Your Choice of Toppings.” This is in quotation marks and capitalized, like it’s the company’s slogan. I guess this is to distinguish it from the places where your toppings are dictated by the management, like Totalitarian Pizza and Famous Original Ray’s Nazi Pizza (“Choice of Toppings? Nein!”).

Best Cemetery: Provo, because up in Orem, man, those guys — wait, I already talked about that.

Worst Thing My Former Roommate, Alma, Used to Say All the Time: “My bad.” What does that mean? “My bad.” My bad what? My bad vocabulary?

Worst Name for a Roommate: Alma.

This "Best/Worst" thing was a disaster, if you ask me. It started as a good idea, based on something one of the Las Vegas papers does, as described by one of our editors who used to work there. In Vegas, they'd make a big deal out of it, and get tons of responses, and then do a huge special section talking about the winners (and losers: They'd write about the "worst" places, too).

This was mentioned at some kind of meeting, and the advertising department took it and ran, higgledy-piggledy, without any guidance on how to do it right. So they printed full-page ads for several days, the page entirely full of categories to vote for -- 148 of them, to be exact. There was no way to enter your votes online; you had to tear off the page and mail it in.

The guy in charge of the survey was never at his desk when I stopped by, but I did see a list of the winners and the stack of entries. There were about 12 of them, not one of which had any more than 10 categories filled in. I'm guessing that if anyone got two votes, they won.

Naturally, the dismal response was not publicized when the results were printed in the Oct. 6 edition of the paper. The advertisers just dutifully called all the businesses that had been named "best" and asked if they wanted to buy an ad in the special section in which the winners were announced. They all did, of course.

The rest of the column, as you might have surmised, were little observations I'd made that didn't fit anywhere else, so they wound up here. Notice there's little attempt to connect them. It's just sort of, "Here's some stuff that's funny; you sort it out."