Back in March, I wrote a post called " The 11 Most Miserable Cities In America ."
The post was based on the latest set of data from Gallup's annual Well-Being Index , which ranks cities in terms of emotional and physical health, work environment, and access to basic necessities, among other factors.
Let's be clear: I've never been to any of the cities on the list.
In the post, I explained that the list was based on statistics published by the consulting company, and not my own impressions.
Even so, I managed to make some folks pretty mad — just take a look at the comments.
One person, though, was determined to prove me wrong.
Sandy Stimpson, a businessman and mayoral candidate from Mobile, Ala. — which was the third miserable city in America, according to Gallup — started tweeting me invitations to come see the city for myself.
@jzeveloff we want to fly you into Mobile, AL and give you the red carpet treatment of our awesome city. Are you up for that?
— Sandy Stimpson (@SandyStimpson) April 4, 2013
— Sandy Stimpson (@SandyStimpson) May 8, 2013
At first, I politely declined. But then I started to read about Mobile, and realized it actually sounded pretty neat.
Sure, the city fell in the bottom quintile on nearly every ranking on Gallup's index. But it's also home to the ninth-largest port in the U.S., which has worked hard to recover from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. Airbus is currently building a major aircraft factory there, a move that will create several thousand jobs.
Plus, Mobile has one of America's best military museums. And it hosts a Mardi Gras celebration that reportedly rivals New Orleans'.
So I ran the idea past my bosses, and decided to take Stimpson up on his offer to show to me that Mobile is not one of America's most miserable cities. I'm flying down to the Gulf Coast city later this week, where I'll visit the Mobile River Delta, eat fresh seafood from the Gulf, and visit the plant of shipbuilder Austal USA.
I'm looking forward to meeting Stimpson, who is sponsoring my trip. But I really don't care about the Mobile mayoral race (Stimpson is running against Sam Jones, who's been in office since 2005).
I do care about getting a real perspective on the city.
As the saying goes, there are lies, damn lies and statistics. I suppose I'll soon find out if where the Gallup stats belong.
I sincerely hope that Stimpson and Mobile prove me wrong. You can read all about my trip here, and i f you have any suggestions for can't-miss activities or sights in Mobile, please shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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