Survey Says: "No Sale, Skippy!"

I slipped past one of them, but the second one looked more determined. He was scanning the crowd with sharp black eyes.

I braced myself, letting the front length of my hair slip over my face as I walked past, in a covert attempt to shield. Like this ever worked for Slash of Guns n' Roses or that kid in The Incredibles... And it didn't work for me, either. The young man moved forward and stepped straight into my path.

"Ma'am, we're doing a survey--"

"I'm sorry. No time," I said, dodging him and sprinting to the escalator like my tennies had just burst into flame.

I rue the day I ever became a target for the Mall Survey Jockeys.

Oh, I used to make it past them. Me and my bag from Hot Topic or Spencers or Rue 21. I used to see them look right through me in order to pounce on some poor soccer mom, who had a moment without Munchkins at her feet and thought she'd pop into the mall for a rare half-hour of kid-free shopping bliss.

But now, I fool absolutely nobody. I've made it into the soccer mom demographic, I guess, in spite of the lack of progeny, cleats or a mini-van. And my opinions matter.

Of course, they don't. I mean, not really. I'd be bound to skew their whole study. If they're hoping to get an insight into the shopping habits of the typical thirty-something American female, well, I'm not out looking for a new pair of Nikes for little Timmy so he isn't socially ostracized and scarred for life...

And I'm not on a quest for a particular pair of $4,000 shoes because Sarah Michelle Jessica Gellpark wore them once on Sex and the Slayer.

I'm at the mall primarily to pick up those one or two things that can't be had from the second-hand CD store, the thrift store or Half-Price Books. You know: used and cheap. Which is sorta how I feel when I see people closing in on me to extract product preferences from my brain.

I'd actually be interested to know the percentage of folks who do go to the mall and think, "Hey, I was here trying to get a few errands done, but suddenly I'm in the mood to have an 18-year-old previously unknown to me take my opinions and choices down to be shared with an unnamed marketing group. I've got a couple of hours to spare."

Doesn't this mean that the only people they get to do these surveys are folks who are unemployed or have nowhere to be at any set time?

And, really, they're going about it the wrong way, anyway. They could round up so many more of us if there were just a trapdoor at the foot of the escalator. Sure, they'd net some folks outside of their demographics...

They'd have to throw those ones back.

But all in all, they'd be more likely to get a cross-section of folks instead of just the trusting Jane American who doesn't think much about disappearing for an undetermined length of time in an undisclosed location for purposes no one quite makes clear.

So I think the key to this is for me to look less approachable at the mall. No more smiling for me. No more laughing with my shopping buddies. Severe, frightening, and likely to cut them... that's what I need to go for.

Hm. This means I'll have to hit the mall; I'll need a few accessories.

I bet there's a blog in just your size at Humor-blogs.


Da Old Man said...

I try so hard to get picked. I even try to pass for a 29 year old soccer mom with 3.2 children. I walk by slowly, and do everything I can to get noticed.
On the rare occasion they do happen to be looking for disabled old farts, I am so happy to spend a half hour getting interviewed because, I don't know if you are aware, you get some sort of renumeration. Oh yeah. I pocketed a cool two bucks for letting them know about my preference in toothpaste, and a 2 for 1 coupon for a movie if I let them know my feelings about Mr. Holland's Opus.
Want to go see a movie with me? I have part of the money for popcorn, and I'm one survey away from a down payment on some Milk Duds.

Great post, as usual. :)

Jenn Thorson said...

Wow, two whole bucks! That's about the going rate for being a Nielson Net Ratings Family for a week-- not too shabby! :)

Alice said...

My last mall excursion was Christmas 2006 where I had the anxiety attack of aught-six. Can't take the crowds and traffic anymore - hallelujah for the internet!!!

But if I did go, I'd totally screw with the survey. Jenn - you go BE the outlier!

Jenn Thorson said...

Alice- I avoid the mall a good couple of months before Christmas because it gets so dicey. It's pretty empty right now. And regarding their surveys-- I'm one of those speed shoppers. I'm hoping I can get up enough speed next time so they just see a redheaded blur. :)

Greg said...

This is funny...just the other day I was stopped to take a survey for a medical study, and ended up making $20 for providing an anonymous urine sample(in a shameless plug, I'll encourage you to my post of Friday last).

I see this as an all-time low for the American dollar, but this hasn't stopped me trying to use it as currency. ; )

Jennifer said...

I am a thirtysomething soccer-mom type. One Christmas season I worked at the mall (oh, the shame) and EVERY TIME I walked past one of the survey monkeys, they approached me. It didn't matter that they had just asked me a few hours before....the same 2 monkeys almost every day for 3 months, and they never seemed to catch on that they had already bothered me (guess I blend with the crowd!). I guess in our neck of the woods they don't choose them for brain power.

Drowsey Monkey said...

Just another reason why I never go to the mall ... I'm very generic looking ;)

Jenn Thorson said...

Drowsey- Oh no-- meaning YOU ARE every woman, it's all in you... and thus you can be sucked in for every survey they've got. You poor dear.

Have you tried going through the mall with that doll in your avatar glued to your face? Because I think with that doll, they might just leave you alone.

Bring the Monkey, too, and you'll be golden!

NJTomboy said...

Let's see I made $40 for viewing and Ikea commercial in a Target parking lot.

I made $5 and got 3 days worth of Lean Cuisine for lunch ( when I was working)

Then I went big time.. I answer a few question every couple of months about baby lotions, perfume fragrances, hand held video games @ $30 a pop!

Oh and then the Pièce de résistance I made $100 to do a radio listenership survey for a station I didn't even listen. All I had to do was show up as the seating was filled up - even though I was in place on time! Best $100 I ever made...


Jenn Thorson said...

NJ- Holy heck- you really cleaned up! Well, I'm glad to hear someone is making out well taking these survey things. I'm still probably going to run away. But at least I'll know someone out there does really well this way!! :)

NJTomboy said...

The funny thing is when I try.. I CAN'T make a dime w/these things..

They always come knocking... or shoving.. when I least expect it! LOL

Jenn Thorson said...

NJ- Isn't that ALWAYS the way of things? So true! :)

Melanie said...

At least they want you to do a survey. The last time I went to the mall, someone thought I worked at the store where I was shopping and started asking me where things were.

Jenn Thorson said...

Aw Melanie-- :( That's just sad. But hey, maybe you could make some tips that way. Go in, pretend to be a server for a few moments, get some extra cash...

Hey, I'm trying. :)