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Think You’re Laid Back? Far From It, San Diego

Here’s fair warning, San Diegans! America’s Finest City is moving precariously close to the stress danger zone.

That’s the opinion of Zero Population Growth, a Washington-based organization that devised a formula to figure the stress ratings of American cities, based on their crime rates, pollution, economic well-being, and (naturally, considering the source) overcrowding.

According to the ZPG study, supposedly laid-back San Diego, with a nationwide reputation for caring most about the quality of suntans and size of the surf, scored a worrisome 3.2 on the stress scale (1 being “best,” 2 “good,” 3 “warning,” 4 “danger” and 5 “the red zone”).

ZPG concludes that it is more stressful to live here than in San Francisco, which scored 3.0, but less so than Sacramento, which was rated at 3.6. Los Angeles at 4.3 and Pomona at 4.5 were ranked among the top 10 stressful cities in the nation.

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If you’re looking to get away from the urban rat-race, ZPG suggests Fargo, N.D., which it calculates as the least stressful city in the United States. Abject boredom and sub-zero temperatures must be dandy cures for high blood pressure.

Eating a Bit of Crow

One place where stress is running high these days is the local office of Crown Cruise Lines, which closes its doors this week and moves to Palm Beach, Fla. Crown is leaving San Diego because of poor business, particularly on its winter cruises.

About 150 employees are affected by the move, and while many of them are members of the ship’s crew and will migrate to Florida to keep their jobs, there are 30 or so Crown office personnel who will be out of work when the company’s last San Diego cruise sails into the sunset Sunday.

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Some of Crown’s employees, in an attempt to buoy their spirits, to say nothing of their job prospects, have produced a flier advertising their skills. Written with tongue slightly in cheek, the flier, entitled “Employee Clearance,” seeks jobs for “six highly skilled and motivated office personnel with travel/leisure experience,” and urges prospective employers to “call today for information on this once in a lifetime offer.”

A Times reporter waiting for an interview with Crown management concerning the closing was handed the flier, and you can imagine his surprise when a company vice president told him there would be no jobs lost because of the move to Florida. The red-faced executive reversed field faster than Gary Anderson when confronted by the amusing advertisement, and he was so angered by having to publicly admit to the layoffs that he castigated the employees involved and fired off copies of their blurb to Crown’s corporate offices in Florida.

Were Crown’s dirty half-dozen feeling contrite? Not in the least. “What’s he gonna do,” one asked. “Fire us?”

Cowboy Fan’s Reaction

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Not all eyes of San Diego’s football fans were on the Chargers-Raiders epic Sunday. At least two, those belonging to San Carlos resident Mike Granberry, were frantically searching for a way to watch his beloved Dallas Cowboys play their hated rivals, the Washington Redskins.

Granberry, a native Texan who attended the first Cowboy game ever in the old Cotton Bowl in 1960 and did not miss a game in Dallas for the next dozen years, has gone to some pretty outrageous lengths to watch America’s Team in the past. When he can’t jet off to a place like Seattle or San Francisco to watch the Cowboys play, or see them on local TV, Granberry often has his brother videotape the games from the Dallas telecast and air-freight the tapes to San Diego so he can view them late Sunday night.

On Sunday, Granberry set off 30 minutes before kickoff in hopes of finding a place where he could pick up Los Angeles’ Channel 2, which was carrying the game. He carried two televisions in his car, just in case one broke down.

First, he stopped at the beach in Del Mar, but neither set could receive Channel 2. It was the same story when he stopped in Cardiff. And Encinitas. And Oceanside. And San Clemente. The intrepid football fan finally turned south for home and had about given up hope when he spied what he thought was a beach parking lot near the San Onofre nuclear power plant.

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It was the start of the fourth quarter, the Cowboys led, 13-0, and Channel 2 came in loud and clear--as long as the television antenna was hooked to the hubcap of Granberry’s car.

Granberry’s “frustration was rapidly being eroded,” when, several minutes after he arrived, he was confronted by a San Onofre security guard, who informed him that the parking lot was reserved for employees of the power plant. Apparently Granberry spun quite a tale of woe, because the guard let him watch the rest of the game in the private lot.

Next week the Cowboys play another big game, against the undefeated Chicago Bears. And it’s not on local television.

“I think I’ll have to sit this one out,” Granberry lamented. “But I think I smell an air-freight job coming on.”

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