Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Market Research Survey Confirms it …I am Old

Last Saturday afternoon I dropped off my 14-year old daughter Melissa and her friend at the movie theater, which was conveniently situated inside the local mall.  I could have joined them for a sweet romantic comedy, but that would have meant sitting alone on the other side of the theater, lest someone make the connection that Melissa and I are actually related.

So I decided to go with Plan B, a glorious two hours by myself in the mall where I could freely wander into stores that did not have clothes my daughter would wear!

I had gone no farther than the food court, however, when an elderly lady with a clipboard stopped me.  “Excuse me ma'am, could I ask you a few questions?”

Normally, on my busy schedule, if I have to go to the mall it is during my lunch hour on a workday when time is severely limited, or I am with Melissa, who is committed to making sure we leave with bags upon bags of the latest junior fashions.  Time does not usually allow for the luxury of taking a market research survey, but today, I had a couple of hours to kill before the girls emerged from the theater , so I figured, why not?

“Do you purchase paper towels?” Came the first question posed to me by this little old lady who stood no taller than four feet.

“Yes,” I replied.

She smiled with anticipation.  “Oh good,” she said.  “Are you between the ages of 25 and 44?”

I considered lying just to make myself feel better, but what purpose would that serve? 

“No,” I responded, albeit reluctantly.

“Oh, ok,” she said, no longer smiling.  She fumbled through all of the papers on her clip board, looking for another product to pitch.

“Do you buy mozzarella cheese?”

“Sometimes,” I responded, thinking of the relatively few occasions when I have actually taken the time to make a recipe that calls for mozzarella cheese. 

“Oh good,” she said.  “Do you have any children 12 or under living in your house hold.”

“No,” I said.   “My daughter is 14.”

“Oh.”  This time, the smile faded completely as she fretted with the papers on her clipboard once again.  Clearly, she had hoped for much more from me.  She tried yet another pitch.

 “Do you eat cold cereal?”

“Sometimes,” I answered.

“Oh, ok,” she said, thinking that perhaps she could still salvage this interview and make her survey quota.   “Are you sure you don’t have any children under the age of 12?”

Now let me think, hmmm, perhaps they made a mistake on Melissa’s birth certificate.  Maybe I should call her school and tell them my daughter should really be in 6th grade, not 8th.   Or maybe a six year old child has secretly stowed away in my house without my knowledge.

“Yes, I am sure,” I said, starting to lose my patience.

“Oh, ok.  Well, exactly how old are you?”


“Oh, ok.” She fumbled with her papers one more time.  “Do you have an overactive bladder?”


Alas, this had not been the first time the market research company has accosted me in the mall.  Several months ago I had again found myself gloriously alone, on a quest for sensible black pumps comfortable enough to fit a size 10 wide. (I have the world’s largest feet, but I’ll save my shoe challenges for another story.)  While making my way to the closest shoe store, a boy who looked no older than 16 approached me and asked if I purchased feminine protection products.  Now, giving a teenage boy the job of asking middle aged women about their menstrual cycle was, in and of itself, quite unsettling.  Convinced though I was that this violated some kind of child labor law, my curiosity still got the best of me.

A few minutes later, the teenager happily escorted me to the office of the market research company, hidden down a long corridor deep inside the bowels of the mall.  I proceeded to sit in front of a computer and answer a number of multiple choice questions about feminine protection.   I buzzed along, anxious to get this over with and return to shoe shopping.  Then, suddenly, I stopped in my tracks. 
One of the questions asked:
“How do your Maxi Pads make you feel?”
a. Delighted
b. Happy
c. Comfortable
d. All of the above

Are you (insert expletive of your choice) kidding me!  These are Maxi Pads we are talking about, not Godiva chocolate!  

All women whose Maxi Pads make them feel happy, please raise your right hand. 

Yeah.  I thought so. 

Seriously, during a time of the month when we are overtaken by cramps, bloating, moodiness, and weight gain, I don’t think we are looking to our Maxi Pads to make us happy.  Until those dreadful five or so days have passed, let’s face it, there’s not a whole lot that’s going to turn our frown upside down.

For many years, my week of “unhappiness” came every 28 days like clockwork.  These days, not so much.  Sometimes three weeks will pass, sometimes two months.   But it’s ok, I’ve accepted my fate. 

After taking the survey, the research company handed me a whopping $7.  Finally, I could return to my ultimate shoe quest, but first, I kindly asked the teenager, “Can I use your bathroom?”

Yup, it’s that overactive bladder.  Let’s face it, I’m old.

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  1. I really hated turning 46 this year because I knew I had jumped a demographic. I am now old! I do have a six year old so I would have been okay for the survey! That's one of the many good things about having children older in life, you do feel younger longer! Thanks for a fun piece!!

    1. I cringe when I fill out surveys now and feel so much younger when I'm in a 30s inclusive group. Silly but true!

  2. Hilarious!!!!!! I've never had a survey at our mall...that would be kind of fun...for a second until I had to answer questions about my overactive bladder! I hope you still enjoyed your 2 hours at the mall!!!

    1. I bought some great clothes Tiffany, so I had a very productive mall experience! Thanks so much!!! Lisa

  3. Oh this is a great story! You're so nice to be patient with those people. I refuse to make eye contact. :) I'm starting feel my age as well. It doesn't help that my hair lady discovered my first gray hairs last Saturday. *sigh* I blame the baby.

    1. Melissa, those hormone can wreck havoc with the hair. I remember about 2 months after giving birth, my hair started to fall out in clumps. So strange! Thanks for reading for blog!!

  4. LOL Lisa! You are a much kinder person than me--I can't even imagine entertaining folks with a survey like that who dared to interrupt some "me time" shopping! And as for the teenage boy...I may have likely slapped him :-)

  5. That's a hoot--I've gotten approached by the mall people a few time once it was for a vitiman drink-that tasted like chocolate mixed with tin!!! =b Another time I did luck out and it was a sausage tasting THAT's a YUMMY one!!!! =) If it was pads I think I'd have to walk out!!! =}

  6. I am laughing! I have been approached by people like that in stores! One was do you have a daughter (then I didnt, I said no but I have 5 boys does that qualify me for anything) lol

  7. Ha ha! I have soooo been accosted myself several times. Though I wish one of them would have hit me up during one of my pregnancies with that "overactive" bladder thing :)

  8. Seriously, you have the patience of a saint! After hearing all the stuff you went through, I will probably go out of my way from now on to avoid any marketing research.

  9. Ha! Thanks for the giggles. 46 is the new 26!