On occasion I participate in research studies for a local marketing company. They call me, ask me a bunch of questions, and if I answer the way they want me to, I’m asked to come in and give my opinion. In return, I get a couple of hours out of the house, some adult conversation, and a paycheck.
The only part of this process which I dislike are the phone interviews. They call A LOT. And, the opportunities to participate in a study for money are far and few between. Of course, if I have a pleasant person on the other end of the phone doing the interview, it’s not so bad. That was not the case the other night.
A gentleman (and I use that term loosely, only out of respect to his Mother) by the name of Mack, called. The beginning of the conversation always consists of general questions about yourself….age, occupation, income, etc. He then went on to ask me ten minutes worth of questions about my buying habits, before telling me that I qualified for the study, and was invited to participate in person. He gave me the location, date and time and then asked if I would be able to attend. After I confirmed that I could, he said, “Well, I thought so, since you’re just sitting around over there.”
Uh, what did you say? Mack? Is it Mack? I would be happy to let you fill my shoes for a day. I’ll take my turn over at your desk, at your stressful job surveying people, and you can come over here for awhile. You can take care of my five year old who likes to pee mostly around the toilet, and my eight year old who will inform you that she’s bored within five minutes of your arrival. You can spend an hour making dinner that, mysteriously, no one will want to eat when it’s hot, and in the meantime, answer phone calls from stupid market research companies. You can change my son’s shirt three times in a day, wipe his butt, give him all his meds, and deal with the insurance company who always seems to be jerking us around. You can also teach my son to read, help my daughter at softball practice, and you can clean the house. Oh, and that last one…well, it’s pretty funny, but as soon as you clean it, it will be a mess again. It’s like magic, or something.
Those were all the things I wanted to say. But instead, all I could spit out was, “Mack, I’m guessing you don’t have kids”. Of course he doesn’t. Because interviewing people over the phone doesn’t pay for the endless amounts of food they eat, the clothes they tear through, and especially not school tuition. In the end, I will be satisfied with the knowledge that “I’m just sitting around over here”, with my crazy kids, crazier dog, stressed-out husband and messy house. And, that Mack’s just sitting around over there, and he can only hope to someday have a life as good as mine.