April 05, 2020

Bangor ranks low on anger list

I’ll admit to feeling just a bit testy when I got to work Monday morning. Returning to the office after spending a few carefree days steeped in the autumn beauty of the Moosehead Lake area can temporarily rankle a person. Or maybe it was the 800 irritating e-mails I was forced to wade through first thing in the morning that soured my disposition. Being asked repeatedly whether I’m tired of being a lovelorn fiftysomething male with bad credit, a flabby body, no business sense and dull cell phone ring tones can put even the most even-tempered guy into a snit.

Yet a recent magazine study tells me that my minor fit of pique is out of keeping with the prevailing mood of my Bangor neighbors and my entire community’s chilled-out character. According to Men’s Health magazine, which ranked 100 U.S. cities by the anger levels of residents, little old Bangor came in at an agreeable 99th. See? We’re not mad as hell here in the Queen City, no matter how grumpy we might feel on occasion. On the urban anger scale, we’re positively blissful.

Not so for those four Florida cities that had the misfortune of being rated among the top 10 angriest cities. Angriest of all is Orlando, which the magazine referred to as “home of the Magic Kingdom and mandated happiness,” a place where folks “are furious.”

I’ve not yet visited Walt Disney World, but I think there could be some merit in Orlando’s place on the hostile index. Having to live in a city where millions of tourists descend each year to clog up the highways while wearing Mickey Mouse ears and perpetual grins might indeed put the resident population into a state of high dudgeon at times.

“Who knows? Maybe living in Goofyville wears thin after 35 years,” the magazine suggested.

Not surprisingly, the rankings have caused some editorial writers, columnists, chambers of commerce and bloggers in cities with high-anger quotients to blast the magazine for its unfair treatment of their beloved municipalities and its bogus methodology.

The magazine says its rankings were determined by the percentage of men with high blood pressure, based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. It then factored in FBI rates of aggravated assaults and Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers on workplace deaths from assaults and other forms of violence.

“And because rage and the road often go hand in hand,” a Men’s Health staffer wrote, “we also included traffic-congestion data from the Texas Transportation Institute, as well as speeding citations per state from the Governors Highway Safety Association.”

Based on those statistics, New York managed to come in at 57th, a curious ranking that had to rile the people of St. Petersburg, Fla., whose already inflated ire level put their city in second place. Although Seattle placed a respectable 43rd, it was deemed to be a slightly more angry place than Newark, N.J., which came in 51st, and even Jersey City, which took the 70th spot. Must be all that Starbucks coffee.

Among the least angry cities, Bangor beat out Boise, Idaho (78), Burlington, Vt. (95), and even edged out friendly Fargo, N.D., by one spot. And while I was slightly peeved at first to learn that our fair city was bested by Manchester, N.H., the least-angry city in the standings, I mellowed rather quickly.

After all, we placid Bangor residents do have a reputation to uphold.

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