Friday, September 18, 2009

Authentic Research

Okay. So. I went to 'a sandwich shop' earlier this week. I shall not divulge any proper nouns, but they had some skilled 'artists' behind the counter, let's just say. Upon my entrance, I learned that they were conducting some research on their sandwiches, and if I would simply agree to participate and answer a few questions, I could have a free sandwich.

Free? Say no more. Done. Sign me up.

So, indeed, I filled out their paperwork, offered them my phone number, gathered my coupon, and ate a free - and delicious - sandwich of the custom-made variety.

But that's not quite where it ends. Because that in itself is not entirely bloggable. Read on.

Tonight, on our way home from a stellar date (that ended at 8:15 because we are older and more tired than ever before), my cell phone rang. Turns out: it's a guy following up on my sandwich experience.

"Ma'am, could I ask you a few questions about your sandwich experience this week?"

"Sure."

"Okay. How are you?"

(Like, right now? Or how was I during my sandwich experience? Or how am I about my sandwich experience? And can we please stop calling it my sandwich experience?)

"I'm fine. Thank you."

"Okay. Let's see. It says here you had an oven roasted chicken sandwich."

"'Tis true."

"I'm sorry. What?"

Sorry. Too quick on the varied answers, apparently.

"Yes. I did. Yes. Oven roasted. That's me."

"Okay. And it says you had it with cheese?"

"No, no cheese."

"But it says you had grated parmesan."

"But I didn't. No cheese."

"No cheese. Hmmm. Okay. And you had it toasted?"

"No."

"It was supposed to be toasted."

"But I didn't want it toasted."

"But it was supposed to be."

"Well, it wasn't."

"Could you clarify, for our interview?"

"Yes. I asked for it to be untoasted, and I received it untoasted. Per my request."

"Hmmm." This was getting complicated. Not so much for me, but for the poor interviewer.

(Note: I will spare you most of the details. The conversation was no less than 25 minutes long.)

"Okay, ma'am, for the following questions, would you please answer with one of the following choices: I liked very much, I liked a little, I neither liked nor disliked, I disliked a little, or I disliked very much."

That's kind of a lot of choices to remember in the car. But... "Sure."

"How would you rate the overall appearance of the sandwich?"

"I liked it."

"Okay. But would you say you liked it very much, you liked it a little, or you neither liked nor disliked it."

Are you kidding me? We can't do this online, with a few click-click-clicks??

"Um, I liked it very much."

"Okay. And the overall size of the sandwich. Would you say it is much too big and hefty, somewhat too big and hefty, just about right, somewhat too small and skimpy, or much too small and skimpy?"

I burst out laughing. "I'm sorry... did you just say 'hefty?'"

"I did."

"Okay. It was big enough."

"Ma'am, was it too big and hefty?"

"Oh, right. Hefty. It was hefty. Just about right, I mean." Since I prefer not to refer to my portions of anything as 'hefty.'

Honestly. I'm pretty sure Bill Gates or somebody had this exact situation in mind when they invented a faster, more efficient way.

"And you mentioned it was toasted."

"No, I didn't."

"Ma'am, it's just the way the interview is worded."

"Um, okay. But I didn't."

"I know. Would you say it was toasted way too much, a little too much, just about right, a little too little, or toasted way too little?"

"It wasn't toasted."

"I know."

"So... I'm not really sure what I'm supposed to say."

"Well, I can't tell you what to say."

"Okay. Right. I guess it was just right. Untoasted. Like I wanted it."

"Right. And would you say it was toasted much too hot, a little too hot, just about right, a little too cool, or much too cool?"

"I don't think I understand the question."

"How was it toasted?"

"It wasn't."

"I know."

(Am I being punk'd?)

"Then... I suppose I would say it was just right."

"Thank you, ma'am."

We discussed each and every vegetable and condiment on the sandwich, the texture of the bread, the sweetness of the sandwich, the chewiness of the chicken, and the messiness of the experience.

"Slightly messy."

"But ma'am, would you say it was much too messy, a little too messy, just about right, a little neat, or very neat?"

For heaven's sake. "A little messy. I think I used four napkins."

As we were approaching the second half-hour of the conversation, and into the personal health questions regarding my overall diet preferences and the last time I was on a diet similar to South Beach, Atkins, Weight Watchers, or Jenni Craig, I asked if we could please pause and continue another time.

And so we will. Tomorrow afternoon. The fun continues.

(Unbelievable.)

8 comments:

Caryn said...

That was one of the funniest posts I have read in a long time! Thank you for sharing with us. I look forward to the second installment.

Kerri said...

O.M.G. You have the patience of a saint. At about question 3, I would have (semi-politely) offered to come in and pay for the "free" sandwich rather than put up with any more of that. I don't suppose it occurred to any of the marketing geniuses behind the "experience" that if you annoy your customers enough, they won't come back for even the most stellar sandwich? Good grief.

Polly said...

Oh my word, Tricia, since I was WITH you for that sandwich experience, and since I too was lulled into a sandwich shopping coma by the offer of THAT sandwich free and a coupon for another one NEXT time, I had THE EXACT SAME EXPERIENCE LAST NIGHT!

But as you'll recall -- and apparently fortunately for me, I'd asked to have my sandwich untoasted and the little marketing survey lady said, "we really need for you to eat it toasted." So at least the questions worked for me, most of the 358 of them.

I stopped her when we'd been at it for ten minutes and asked if we were almost done. She said yes.

Ten minutes later I could see that she lied to me -- when we too were heading into a study of my lifelong diet experiences.

So I told her we were done. Not another question, please. Trying not to be rude.

Her parting question? "And when shall I call you back so we can complete this interview?"
I stumbled over, "Uh... tomorrow -- no, not tomorrow. I don't know, one day next week... um... some other time but we are DONE TONIGHT."

I can tell she IS going to call again. And Kerri, you are right: we WILL pay for this sandwich one way or another.

Polly said...

And one more thing about that: the girl asked me if I had any condiments on my sandwich. Since I'd felt that Ranch dressing was more than enough, I had't. So I truthfully answered No.
"Did you have any mustard?"
"No, I didn't have any condiments."
"Any ketchup?"
"I DID NOT HAVE ANY CONDIMENTS ADDED TO THE SANDWICH."
"I understand that, ma'am, but we have to go through the list anyway. Did you have mayonnaise?"
"NO."
"Low fat mayonnaise?" NO.
"Oil?" NO.
"Parmesan Cheese?" NO.
"Salt and Pepper?" NO.

I tuned her out then and just answered no to every blasted condiment known to mankind.

My word. Yeah, a little funny in retrospect.

Jason Malone said...

I don't even believe this!!!!! Are you kidding me?? Poor Trish and poor Polly. Are these people crazy?!? What kind of questionnaire is THAT? I am experiencing a combination of hysterical laughter and downright anger right now. And I can't believe you were both patient enough to sit through the majority of those questions. I would have put a stop to it way sooner, and I have a feeling I would have been somewhat rude about it, too. Kudos to you both.
Jen

Tricia said...

Yes - he asked me about each of the condiments, too, and thankfully I had some to report on.

But once I said yes to regular mayonnaise, why ask if I had low-fat mayonnaise? Have you ever met anyone - in the history of sandwiches - who asked for both regular mayonnaise AND low-fat mayonnaise on their sandwich??

Sure can't wait for Mr. Sandwich Experience to call back. I'll give him some low-fat mayonnaise.

my3boys said...

I can't believe all you got was a sandwich for your trouble. When I did the taste test for coffee creamer, I got paid $20! That and about 8 dixie cups of coffee. "Too creamy, somewhat creamy, not creamy enough..." But the questionaire was on paper, so although we killed a couple of trees, I didn't have to deal with a phone call. Good luck on the follow up!

Meghan said...

So aggravating for you, but oh so hysterical for all of us to read about! I was in tears laughing by the time you got to the SECOND round of toasting questions.