Online Survey Says? You’re Wasting My Time.

Leaning across the table the Applebee’s server lowered her voice as well as her gaze. She wanted us to know how very serious she was. “Listen.” She began. “I am this close to winning the contest around here for the most customer surveys completed and I just need a few more.” My friend and I looked simultaneously at one another in shock and disbelief that this woman was actually attempting to strong-arm us into taking an online survey like this.

“Pleeeeeeeze…” she continued. And I honest-to-God kid you not, this is actually what she said next: “Go online and fill out the survey on the back of your check and you will receive a free dessert on your next visit! Though, more importantly(insert lengthy pause for added drama) … you will be helping ME receive a cash bonus when I win!” She gushed while silently making a clapping gesture with her hands.

I wanted to make a hand gesture of my own, but refrained. Instead, once she turned her back, I crinkled the check into a little paper ball, stuffed it in my purse and said in awe: “Okaaaaay. So THAT just cemented the outcome of the already slim odds of my EVER filling out that survey. How about you?”

Remember when online surveys were something that happened occasionally at the register in retail stores when your number came up? It started out being a “special” thing in which you were “randomly chosen” to participate and you “might” win $50 worth of store credit or something like it. It was actually kind of worth the effort back then.

Now it seems that EVERYONE is doing it EVERYTIME you go to the register ANYWHERE. (And yes, I DO feel the need to use an excess amount of superlatives here.) Retailers, casual dining establishments, fast food restaurants and auto shops (to name few) offer surveys that pretty much guarantee you WILL get something for free if you sacrifice the time to go online and take them.

I never take them.

Much like my previous post, perhaps it is the sheer inundation of these things that makes me dig in my heels in refusal. It’s annoying enough to get one piece of paper handed back to me with my minor purchases… what am I supposed to do with two or three random slips of paper? For crying out loud, if I saved it all, I’d have enough survey paper to cover my living room walls.

How about, instead of giving me a free dessert, car wash or $5 coupon — you save us both some time and a couple of trees in the process. After all, if I had oodles of time to sit down, log onto your website and take endless online surveys, why am I showing up at your speedy and convenient drive-thru window?

What’s next? I can’t help but wonder. Perhaps hospitals will begin offering a free angioplasty with a completed survey for every $10,000 you or your insurance company spend? You laugh now. But somewhere, as you’re reading this… someone is getting paid to figure out just HOW to make that work.

No Fat, No Carbs… No Thanks.

Like a desperate hunter setting out into the wild in search of food, I left the office desperately starving and in search of something tasty and filling. I WANTED a cheddar-roast beef sandwich from Arby’s… greasy and dripping with red ranch sauce. But there was a big deadline on Friday’s horizon and a Smoothie King just across the street from the office, so I decided to give that a try instead.

When I walked in the door I was immediately assaulted by an overwhelmingly giant and colorful menu boasting all kinds of things I could not pronounce, let alone grasp what dietary need they would fulfill. A bright-faced boy looking like he couldn’t possibly be a day over 13 leaned across the counter—beaming at me—and enthusiastically asked what I wanted. I cringed. I had no freaking idea what I wanted.

I suppose I wanted something that tasted good above ALL else and something that would make me STOP wanting the greasy Arby’s cheddar-roast beef sandwich dripping with red ranch sauce. But I couldn’t tell Mr. 12-year old, fresh-faced-health-food peddler that. So instead I asked for his recommendation… Which was, indeed, a colossal mistake.

Here is what he SAID: “Well, the ‘Lean One’ is great because it has protein so it helps keep you full, trims the waistline and contains no fat or carbs.”

But here is what I HEARD: “You are fat.”

Here is what I SAID: “Is it going to taste like a diet drink or like an actual fruit smoothie?”

But here is what I THOUGHT about saying as I envisioned myself wagging my index finger in his face and then proceeding to draw an imaginary circle in the air around my mid-section: “You think I am FAT!?! Listen here, String Bean, I may weigh more than you do on your heaviest day, and I certainly won’t be doing any runway modeling, ever… but I am a HEALTHY weight! You don’t know what’s under here. This is a baggy top. I might have a six-pack under here for all you know!”  (I don’t. But he doesn’t KNOW that.)

So now I am stuck. I’ve asked this zygote’s opinion and he’s pointed out that I am fat and in need of some nutritional intervention so out of sheer shame and compliance I ordered the stupid “Lean One” and hoped for the best.

When he triumphantly handed over the cup, certain that he had done a tremendous service in saving me from myself that day, I noticed that the CUP read: “The Lean One enhances fat loss, promotes lean muscle, helps suppress appetite and promotes a healthy heart.”

Now, I’m sure these features and benefits are important to many, many people. But as earlier stated in this entry… I wanted something that tasted good ABOVE ALL ELSE—nutritional value be damned—and something that would make me STOP wanting the greasy Arby’s cheddar-roast beef sandwich dripping with red ranch sauce.

So here is what I THOUGHT as I shuffled out of the store in my baggy top, bitterly sipping my sad little smoothie that definitely seemed like it cut ALL of the culinary corners when it came to taste: “If this doesn’t satisfy me, I’m scarfing down a bag of Doritos. I knew I should have gone to Arby’s.”