What do you think is the greatest fear people have? Death? An IRS audit? Country western music?
Not even close. In fact, the only one of the above that made the top 14 fears was death, and it only finished in a tie for sixth.
The list was compiled from a survey taken by some market researchers suffering from the fear of having more time on their hands than they knew what to do with. They asked 3,000 Americans what they were most afraid of and came up with a ranking of the 14 most frequently mentioned fears.
Here are the top 10 of those fears, according to that study, with appropriate applications to and implications for Payson and the Rim country:
1. Fear of speaking before a group.
Above death, sickness and insects? Give me a break. Fortunately in a small town people rarely gather in very large groups, so this greatest of all fears should be fairly easy to avoid. However, the next time you're at Wal-Mart, you might want to work on this skill. As you push your shopping cart through the huddled masses, babble incoherently to yourself or carry on a conversation with your alter ego. It may not make it any easier to speak before a group, but it will almost certainly clear the aisles and disperse those ahead of you in the checkout line.
2. Fear of heights
This one has the potential to be a problem up here in the Rim country. We are relatively high to begin with, and we have the constant specter of the towering rim as a backdrop. Look at it this way: the average elevation in Payson is about 5,000 feet. If you stand on a six-foot stepladder, you are actually 5006 feet in the air. That is truly scary.
3. Fear of insects and bugs
I always thought these were pretty much one and the same. In fact, this one dictionary I have says "bug" is a name for various insects. But it also adds, "...particularly one infesting houses and inflicting severe bites." I guess, then, you could say a bug is a killer insect that invades your home and drags off your children and small household pets kicking and screaming. That kind of makes them a legitimate fear, depending, of course, on how you feel about your children and small pets.
4. Fear of financial problems
With low wages and a high percentage of seniors on fixed incomes, this has to be a legitimate worry in the Rim country. But there is also an upside: there really isn't all that much to spend money on in these parts anyway. Your choices include Wal-Mart, movies starring Adam Sandler, or giving it to the town in the form of new "sin" taxes.
5. Fear of deep water
No sweat. Deep water is a problem we don't got. In fact, if we took a survey of things Rimaroos fear, I'd be willing to wager that shallow water might be more fearsome up here than deep water. Too much shallow water and you're in stage 5 before you know it.
6./7. Fear of sickness (tie)
There isn't much that's very funny about sickness, unless you're talking about the kind that produces columns like this or that makes Mike Burkett believe there is any significance whatsoever in his being named "Most Eligible Bachelor" in the Roundup's Best of Payson. In that sense, the Rim country is a very sick place and the fear is that such dementia, like mad cow disease, could turn all of your brains into sponges like mine and Mike's.
6./7. Fear of death (tie)
Death isn't so funny, either. Unless, of course, you're talking about one of those groups that rides comets to heaven or drinks special Kool-Aid to lubricate the path to their beverage maker. You would think these kinds of people would at least take their cyanide with bourbon. Here, maybe a nice gin made from juniper berries would work.
8. Fear of flying
One of my very real fears. I irrationalize it thus: if God had wanted man to fly, he would turn us all into ravens. And you have to wonder why there are so many ravens. Maybe he is doing it one at a time. I truly believe that 5,006 feet is just about as high as humans were intended to go.
9. Fear of loneliness
This one can get to me too, but it is certainly preferable to sickness, death and flying. Talking to yourself at Wal-Mart might help you deal with this fear, too.
10. Fear of dogs
This one I don't get. There are probably more dogs per capita in the Rim country than anywhere else on earth. But I have yet to meet one that has an ounce of courage.