Junior E. Lee, general manager of the Yarbrough Worldwide Media and Pest Control Company in Greater Garfield, Ga., just called me with what he said was an exciting development.
It either had to be that he had the latest poll numbers on the presidential race - Junior runs our polling firm, Round or Square Polling Inc. - or that he had finally gotten the termites out of Arveen Ridley's barn - Junior is also a certified pest control professional.
It was neither.
Instead, he was excited about a new ranking of colleges and universities that he had developed while awaiting a shipment of Malathion at Rooster Medlen's store. He planned to call it the Yarbrough Worldwide Media and Pest Control Company's Best Universities Going Survey, or BUGS. (Sometimes, I think Junior has a one-track mind.)
I told Junior that I appreciated his initiative but I thought U.S. News and World Report had beaten him to the punch.
They have just released their annual ranking of colleges and universities and I believed they had cornered the market on this subject.
Junior countered that the magazine's rankings were controversial and that a lot of colleges - particularly those that didn't rate well - refused to accept the numbers. Therefore, he felt this was the perfect time to strike. Junior said it is like the pest control game. You've got to spray for ticks on your schedule, not theirs. That doesn't make a lot of sense but there is much about the exterminating business that I don't know.
Anyway, Junior said he had been crunching the numbers and thought I ought to know that the University of Georgia keeps coming out on the top of his list.
Now he had my attention. I asked him for more details.
The first criterion for being on the BUGS list is how long you have been around. The University of Georgia is the oldest state-chartered university in the nation. It was chartered in 1785 but it was 1801 before the school graduated any students. Junior said that was because it took students that long to find a place to park.
Another important factor is that even if you have been around a long time, you must be in a nice place. Not some place like Massachusetts or Connecticut, where it snows all the time or in Florida where there are too many mosquitoes. Junior thought that being located in Athens, "The Classic City of the South," was another reason to give the University of Georgia high marks. He said it was like finding a can of Raid sitting next to a bedbug. Location is important.
I asked Junior what else he considered as other important benchmarks for BUGS. He mentioned that one key component of the survey was whether or not you got goose bumps on a Saturday afternoon in the fall walking under an arch toward a football stadium, seeing folks all excited and yelling "Go, Dawgs! Woof! Woof! Woof!" and hearing the band playing, "Glory, Glory to Ol' Georgia."
I told him I thought that was an excellent point to consider in ranking universities, although I thought it a little unfair to all the other colleges and universities in the country that will never know that experience.
Academics are an important part in any ranking of colleges and universities and, of course, the University of Georgia gets an A-Plus there. Junior says UGA has had 18 Rhodes Scholars, which is more than all the other schools in the state combined, so that statistic was like shooting beetles in a barrel. (Junior and his pest control jargon again.)
Junior said a university can't be all-work and no-play and a recreation program was important in a student's development and to the BUGS list. He was impressed that the University of Georgia had gotten several scholar-athletes to give up their Saturdays in the chemistry lab each fall to compete in some friendly competition with scholar-athletes from other schools.
Nothing serious he said; just a way for young people to stay out of trouble.
Junior said he had a lot more details but that the UPS truck had just arrived with the Malathion and Rooster Medlen didn't want the stuff sitting around the store. I asked him when we could expect to see his analysis of the presidential campaign. He said as soon as he can get the bugs out of his computer program. That's why he bought the Malathion.
I never know when Junior E. Lee is pulling my leg.
You can reach Dick Yarbrough at firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, GA 31139. Yarbrough is a part-time resident of Dawson County.