2008.05.07 They're just like us in 43533

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

I finished up with addressing and labeling the papers last Tuesday night and walked home. It wasn’t too long before a friend called and asked, “Aren’t you worried about getting some angry phone calls from Lyons people?”

I told her I wasn’t concerned. Surely they would see the silliness of the Claritas category system.

Surely I was wrong.

Thursday morning I received a call from a furious Lyons resident who chewed me out for several minutes. At one point he said something like, “What kind of idiot would write this?”

“You’re talking to him,” I had to say.

He said it was slanderous from start to finish and he was thinking of rounding up signatures on a petition to demand a public apology.

I suggested writing a letter to the editor to explain his problems with the column, but he didn’t think it was his responsibility to tell what was wrong with it; he just wanted an apology.

Since I write only a couple of serious columns a year out of 52, I really didn’t think any readers would take it seriously, but all this talk about a petition took me back about 15 years to the day I was hung in effigy downtown. I really am sorry that I angered this caller, and any others who read the column in the same way.

Well, let’s review this one as I try to worm my way out of it, as I search for a little redemption from those in the 43533 Zip Code.

That’s how the column started off—with those five numbers that represent Lyons. The information came from Claritas, a marketing firm that provides information about the people living in a community. Go to the company website, type in a Zip Code and learn all about yourself.

Claritas told me there are people living in Lyons who drive a GMC Sierra, and then I said there are people there who drive a Ford Crown Vic, and then I mentioned there are people in Lyons who drive a Dodge Ram. Later I mentioned there are people in the village who drive a Chevy Suburban.

To me, this makes it quite clear that Lyons is just like every other little town around here. There are people in Morenci and Fayette and Waldron who drive those vehicles, too.

I also said there are people in Lyons who go skiing and others who watch Jeopardy on television. There are people who go to their kids’ sporting events and those who like auto racing and those who are divorced and those who like to travel and buy antiques.

Once again, this makes Lyons sound pretty much like Anytown, USA. People with these interests live throughout the area. I’m sure there are people in Morenci, too, who subscribe to Bassmaster magazine and like to eat in a steakhouse.

So why was I so rude to single out those people who live in 43533? Because Claritas makes them out as different. Of the 15 characteristics presented, five were unique to Lyons. Or so says Claritas. That’s why the Claritas data seems a little silly, as if people from Morenci don’t resemble those from 10 miles east of here.

Here’s how Claritas has Morenci pegged: Dodge Ram, hunting, camping, auto racing, own an outboard motor, have at least one mortgage, eat at Bob Evans and Ponderosa, satellite TV subscribers, and in category after category, country music fans.

There are some people in Morenci who listen to alternative music and pay their bills on-line. There’s another group that watches TV at least 10 hours a day and belongs to veteran’s clubs. Another group rents videos by mail and watches Soul Train. Soul Train? That’s still on TV?

Those last two paragraphs about Morenci must be fairly descriptive of Lyons, too, as well as Fayette and Waldron. I was hoping that’s what readers would conclude about what seems to be a rather imprecise analysis by Claritas, but not everyone did.

My caller wants an apology to all of the people in Lyons who I offended. I am truly sorry if I’ve angered residents of the Lyons area. That wasn’t my intent and I never enjoy receiving phone calls confirming my status as an idiot.

And one more thing, I really don’t like country music.

 

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