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Peg McEntee: Take this job – and state – and love it

Published April 25, 2013 12:10 pm

Column • Utah ranks high in stress and my work ranks the lowest — but I don't hate either.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

So this week brought some dreary news: I live in the fourth most-stressed state, and I have the worst job in 2013. Frankly, given the implications, I'd rather not know about either one of them.

But, according to a Gallup poll, Utah ranks No. 4 in stress, behind West Virginia, Rhode Island and Kentucky. And the website careercast.com reports that being a newspaper reporter is the year's worst job, while being an actuary is the best.

Paradoxically, Gallup also says Utah is No. 3 in "experiencing the most enjoyment," trailing only Hawaii and Wyoming.

Let's puzzle this out. As a reporter, editor and now columnist, I've worked long hours, talked to thousands of peculiar people, faced daily if not hourly (minutely?) deadlines, missed a lot of family time, never made a ton of money and developed carpal tunnel syndrome.

And, all told, I've had the time of my life.

As for the stress vs. enjoyment aspect of the Gallup surveys, Utah's air quality problems get everyone down. Some folks think living in a deeply red state is stultifying. And don't forget the drivers who talk, text and tailgate incessantly and at high speed, even on city streets.

On the other hand, I'm looking out my window at a beautiful spring day, with snowcapped mountains flanking the Salt Lake Valley. The air is clear, for now, and at home my roses are coming on strong. The Legislature is not in session.

Barring a successful federal land grab by Utah, our public lands are stunning and easily accessible. You can drive to Antelope Island, hike along its spine and see the breadth of the Wasatch Range. Southeastern Utah, where I'm heading in a couple of weeks, possesses gorgeous canyons, mountain ranges and reefs. In the northwestern corner is the Sawtooth National Forest, home to a dazzling array of raptors and owls.

Small towns have enticing little cafes and bars, where, if you're lucky, you can dance the night away to a cowboy band. Cities have symphonies, major theater companies and universities. Unbeknownst to many travelers, you can actually buy a drink these days.

And the West Desert, as forsaken as it looks, has its own allure for those who want to stand, alone, and hear only the wind.

As the Gallup poll noted, "Utah is unique in that it is routinely ranked among the highest stress and highest enjoyment states … suggesting a complex relationship between stress and other emotions."

We know, Gallup, we know.

Peg McEntee is a news columnist. Reach her at pegmcentee@sltrib.com, facebook.com/pegmcentee and Twitter, @ Peg McEntee.