Today's "Ask Dr. Heartlander" comes by emergency e-mail from an iPhone somewhere in North Carolina. If you have never seen this Trial Balloon feature before, it operates on a simple premise - many minds are better than one, and we are ALL Dr. Heartlander.
Dear Dr. Heartlander,
I work for the US Census visiting uncounted households. Because we have confidentiality rules, I can't tell you exactly where I am at this moment.
I just finished enumerating the individuals living in the F_stein residence (lovely castle by the way) and was slowly backing down the long, treacherous, winding driveway when a sudden flash of lightning and the howl of an incessant wind momentarily distracted me. The rear wheels of my car slipped over the embankment and now I'm balanced on the edge of a precipice overlooking a 1,000 foot drop. Each time I move, the center of gravity shifts and my vehicle tips a little bit more towards oblivion. Opening the door or climbing out the window is not an option. I'm middle-aged (really) and by no means quick or nimble.
I honked the horn a hundred times before Dr. F_stein came out of the house to see what was going on. He took one look at my situation and went back in the house, rubbing his hands together and mumbling something about "releasing the creature". I don't know if he's talking about me (we are all God's "creatures") or if he's going to get somebody else. He said he lived alone, but I'm not sure I believe him - there were strange crashing and moaning sounds coming out of the basement. He said it was the water heater. Dr. F_stein was kind enough during our interview (it was long) but if he brings another person out of that house I know I am going to feel betrayed and I will have to start the enumeration process all over.
On one side is certain death. On the other, sure disappointment and a lot of extra work. Plus, there's an element of fear in the air - something sinister that I can't describe. That's why I decided to write to you.
Dr. Heartlander, what is the secret to happiness?
I told "Tipper" that the secret to happiness lies in never having to back a car down a winding driveway in a thunderstorm without someone to help you. Even if you are working for the government, it is dangerous to visit strange, remote households alone. Now that she has already violated some cardinal rules and is in this difficult situation, her only remaining choice is to keep a sunny disposition, expect the best of others, and be careful around fire.
But that's just my opinion. What do YOU think, Dr. Heartlander?(124 Comments)