Hello, My Name Is …

Nothing Overlooked.jpg

“Nothing Overlooked”
Oil Painting by Anne Belov
Private Collection; Coupeville, WA

Thank you, Anne Belov, for your willingness to let me use your beautiful image.

I don’t know about anyone else, but my kitchen sink definitely does not look like this – Anne’s painting actually makes me want to spend time doing dishes!

As opposed to seeing a few dirty dishes in the sink and running as far away as possible.  Which is why these days I mostly eat meals that require the use of very few dishes.

This aversion to  normal household chores became chronic in 2005, when I found myself working three jobs (one full-time, two part-time) to try to keep up with my credit card bills.  After working a full day job, I would rush home, grab a 5-minute break, and then rush to my next job.  And on Saturdays, and sometimes Sundays, I worked one or the other of the part-time jobs, as well.

Both part-time jobs were the same – market research interviewing.  Each company knew I worked for the other company, but they were OK with that as long as the projects didn’t overlap in any way, and I was just that good at interviewing that they were so willing to accommodate me.

Yes, folks, I was one of those annoying people who call you up to ask you random questions such as how old are you, how big is your family, what kind of car do you drive and do you like it.

Note – market research is NOT telemarketing.  We never sold anything to anyone.  Our calls were strictly opinion polls.

But people still often got sensitive with us.

OK, so some of the surveys leant themselves to misinterpretation.  Many women got extremely upset during the “cosmetic surgery” survey we did, wherein we were to find out how many women had undergone boob surgery, or were contemplating doing so.  The VERY FIRST question (after, “Hello, my name is [CookieCakes] and I’d like to ask you a few questions…”) was:

“Have you ever had breast augmentation surgery?”

I can’t imagine why so many women simply hung up that point …  hang-ups were especially prevalent for the male interviewers in our group.  Again, I can’t imagine why!

IhatepeopleAnd then there was the survey that required us to call up people whose telephone service had been cancelled due to non-payment.  One of the questions asked for the individual’s feelings about being terminated – helloooo, how do you THINK they’re going to feel?

That is, if we even got through to anyone at any particular number.  Because – did it never occur to the person who wrote the darn thing? – the numbers we were given to call were the same numbers that had been cancelled by the company!


That survey was a close runner-up in insensitivity to the one we did on behalf of a local funeral home, trying to determine if the funeral director’s services were satisfactory.  I can sum up that experience by quoting the words of a widow who had lost her husband just a week or so before the survey:

“Well, I guess it was OK, but my husband’s still dead!”

(followed by heart-rending sobbing.)


Of course, some people get annoyed simply because anyone has the audacity to call them at all, especially if the call just happens to come in at their dinner time.  We interviewers had no way of knowing the dinner time of every single U.S. citizen, but some of our respondents felt we should have had that information at our fingertips.

I’ll never forget the young gentleman I called who happened to live in a distressed urban area.  I don’t know if it was his dinner time or if he was just generally an obnoxious individual.  Upon realizing that this middle-aged female caller was not someone he knew, he immediately invited me to come to his house and perform a certain act on a certain uniquely male body part.  I am very proud of the fact that without missing a beat, I responded:

“Well, thank you, but I’m working right now.  Perhaps some other time.”

In the ensuing shocked silence, I simply hung up.  We were allowed to do so with extremely difficult respondents.


Of course, not all of the interviewing experiences were bad – some were downright fun.  Many respondents actually seemed to ENJOY answering all kinds of questions.  I had one elderly male respondent who, upon hearing that the survey could take up to an hour, merely asked me to wait while he got into his comfy chair – and then he answered every, single question I had, and it did take an entire hour.

NewCarSometimes language was a bit of a barrier.  We were doing a new-car survey, and I had a respondent who was very willing and intelligent, but English was not his first language.  During the course of the survey, there was a question asking what feature the respondent liked best about his new vehicle.  His answer? – fuck lights!

Whoa – gotta get me some of those!

During training, it was drilled into us that we must CLARIFY all ambiguous answers given by respondents, so I was forced to ask what, exactly, he meant by fuck lights.  He replied, “You know – those lights you use when it is fucky so you can see better.”  [Nah, personally I prefer low lighting, or candle lighting, or no lighting …]

Oh, wait a minute – there’s that language thing going on:


Even I have fog lights on my vehicle – they’re nice, but I think those OTHER ONES probably would be way more fun.  (And I want a percentage of the profits from any car manufacturer who latches onto this idea.)

So, folks, have a little sympathy for those individuals who work these types of jobs to make ends meet.  I’m not saying you have to agree to do a survey, but at least decline politely.  A simple, “I’m not interested, please take me off your call list” was always sufficient to end the interview.


I love to hear from my readers.  You may comment on this post, comment on my Facebook page, or email me at cordeliasmom2012@yahoo.com


Images by:  Anne Belov, and Eisley Constantine, and Riccardo Romano, respectively

This entry was posted in That's Life and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Hello, My Name Is …

  1. good for you, I hope you don’t have to work 3 jobs anymore but this was very entertaining.


  2. You mean you DON’T know what time I eat dinner??? So weird. That job sounds like an interesting experience, for sure!


  3. Heck, I don’t even know what time I eat dinner most days! The job itself was OK, but working 3 at one time did me in. At least I got some really good stories out of it.


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  5. Archon's Den says:

    I used to be respectful and well-mannered, even did a few of those surveys – 15/20 minutes, never an hour. But, like many others, we reached overload. We’re on the National Do Not Call List….and still they call – from India, where they can’t read it. A couple offer, “If you no longer wish to receive these notifications, Press 2 now.” You can push 2 till it falls off your phone, and tomorrow you’ll still get a, “This is your FINAL chance…” If only??!
    Cute piece! One of my female co-workers used to do physical, one-on-one, man-in-the…mall interviews on some weekends. Like yours, some of her tales were amusing. Others? I’d have trouble completing the interview from my holding cell. 😉 😕


    • No legitimate market research company would have those phone options (Press 2 now) – that definitely was a telemarketer. They can be sneaky that way.

      Regardless, I’m glad I’m not doing that job any more. I’ve grown to hate telephones.


  6. Jim Wheeler says:

    Very good, CM.

    My dear wife volunteered with a local hospital for more than two decades and has many stories to tell about answering the phone at the reception desk. Many times the caller would want to know “if cousin Jake was awake right now”, or the like. She would patiently transfer the call to the nurses’ station.

    One time, a persistent caller absolutely insisted on being told the condition of a hospitalized relative, when in fact the person had died. When this happened, wife was not allowed to convey that information but simply say the status was “unavailable”. After about five minutes of persistence and clear explanation, wife finally said, “I’m afraid she’s not doing so well” and hung up. She and her co-workers couldn’t contain their mirth.


    • Funny, and sad at the same time. I don’t know how I would have handled that call.

      When my husband had to go out of town for several months for a job, he asked me to please drive his brand new car periodically so the battery wouldn’t wear down. I did. And I got in an accident in which it was nearly totaled. Hubby would ask almost every night how his car was doing, and I’d say fine. But one evening, maybe because I was overtired or something, I told him, “Well to be honest, I’m not really driving it much right now.” [of course not, it was in the shop, with the engine out, the sides off, and nothing left but the metal framework]. Thankfully, the car came home before he did.

      Thanks so much for reading and for commenting.


      • Jim Wheeler says:

        Funny, and sad at the same time. I don’t know how I would have handled that call.

        Right. I probably didn’t capture the moment well in the telling. You might remember one episode in the old Mary Tyler Moore show where Mary and the rest of the newsroom attended the funeral of the guy who played Bozo the Clown on their TV station. He had died by being stepped on by an elephant. They all inappropriately broke into giggles at just the wrong time. It was kinda like that, she said.


        • I do understand. I once worked in a children’s hospital, and I can remember many “black humor” situations. Laughter was sometimes a great stress reliever. I apologize if it seemed like I was making light of the situation.


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