So I was pretty excited when a real live woman called last night wanting me to participate in a survey sponsored by the forest service.
She asked questions like, “In the past year, how many times have you gathered with family or friends in an outdoor location that is not someone’s home?” and “In the past year, have you gone caving?”
Although I have a newfound love of picnicking, it quickly became clear that I am a pasty mole of an urbanite. No, I had to admit, I had not gone caving. I had not gone camping. I had not swum in a river or jet-skied or hunted or fished. One of the questions was about an activity I hadn’t even heard of, something like “orienteering.”
I asked the woman to define it, in case maybe I did it all the time and just didn’t know what it was called. But it tu
When I was little, my mom was always trying to send my sister and I outside to play on our charming, kid-friendly cul-de-sac or in the playhouse with running water that my dad built us. But we’d just hide beneath piles of blankets in front of the heater vents like ungrateful little vampires.
Nevertheless, I still very much like the idea of being an outdoorsy person, and I found myself inflating my numbers in the survey. I must have gone to the beach more than three times, right? And that one time I went hiking in
It made me realize what bullshit all polls really are. If I can’t be trusted to be honest about something as neutral as my usage of the great outdoors, can I really be trusted to tell a stranger my most intimate thoughts about race or gay rights or elections?
In a way, polls that ask about straight-up opinions are a lot safer than polls about habits. I’m proud of my views on, say, public transportation, but I’m likely to get pretty defensive if you ask me how many miles I put on my car last week.
Maybe that’s why I never go camping. I don’t want to pollute the air as I drive to a remote location. Yeah, that’s it.