Guess what I did this week? On second thought, don’t. There are literally billions of things I might have done and probably millions of things I did do that have nothing to do with that first question. Most of them are stupid and mundane. This week I spent a lot of time breathing, not very interesting to most of you, but to me it was a huge part of my life. I also went to the bathroom many times, chased a few squirrels away from my bird feeders, I think I may have lost the remote once or twice, and had to get up to change the channel, I digested food, and even spent several hours sleeping. Oh boy! I’m sure your lives are now complete, knowing all that terrific stuff. You can now die happy. Not! If this is what you’ve always wanted, I’m glad I was able to give it to you, and I feel really, really sorry for you.
What I did do, that I am excited about is I got paid for my opinion. Now you folks who know me know I am a man of wonderful and inciteful opinions, and this week I got paid a hundred-and-fifty-dollars for one of my premier opinions. Isn’t it great to know that I, Mr. Ohh!, can contribute to the betterment of society in such a way and profit from it as well. In truth this was not the first time this happened. I participated in a Focus Group, and I have actually participated in many of them over the years. I feel it’s my duty. I owe the world my opinion and the world owes me so much for providing it.
In a typical group here’s what happens. Twelve people go into a conference room and discuss some product or service. They want to know everything you think about it. I did one about a gourmet pizza place once. They were going to have an actual wine bar in the waiting area. The idea was, after you ordered your pizza, you wouldn’t have to sit in your car. You could sit at the bar and enjoy an alcoholic beverage. Now whose idea was that? Can’t you just see some guy staggering in the house and planting a sloppy kiss on his wife and shouting, “Happy New Year, I picked up a Pizza”. Ohh yea, he’s sleeping on the couch tonight and will be confused about what happened.
One thing with these groups is there is always a one-way mirror one side of the room. We’re told that someone is watching us. This makes some folks freeze up. The guy might say, “So miss, what’s your opinion?” Invariably, one person will say, “Well, I’m not sure, I might agree with Mr. Ohh! but others made points too. If I have to say definitely the blue is a hundred-per-cent the bluest color, while the green is most assuredly greener. At least that’s how I see it. Is that right?” What do you mean; Is that right? It’s your opinion, for crying out loud. What’s the guy gonna say? “Sorry ma’am, that’s not your opinion. Why don’t you ask the lady sitting next to you? She probably knows your opinion.” I mean the whole point of the group is so they can see what folks think. They already know what they think they could save themselves a lot of time and money if that was all they needed.
Another focus group I was asked to take a taste test. They wanted me and folks like me to judge different brands of smoked sausages. Now I like smoked sausages a lot. I told them seventeen times that I couldn’t decide and made them bring me another piece. I probably ate three pounds of sausage. That’s like twenty bucks in the market I go to. Plus, they paid me fifty for the write-up. That’s what I call maximizing my situation. It’s also called a job for maximum-strength-antacid, but that’s beside the point.
Probably the most fascinating focus group I was ever involved in was for four and five-year-old girls. My daughter was the perfect age for that one and I signed up as soon as I heard it paid three hundred dollars. I wish I hadn’t. You see I thought it would be a happy little father-daughter outing where the stroller, snacks, and muzzle come out and dad can do what he wants. Nope!
It was for the new holiday toys and the manufacturer wanted to know what toys the kids would play with the fastest. I couldn’t relax. I had to watch my daughter like a hawk and take notes. So let me set the scene; In a large room there was a round enclosed area with sixteen preschoolers playing. On the outside of the ring are sixteen parents watching their kids play, and taking notes. Outside of them are four well dressed ladies watching the parents, watching the children play, and taking notes. Surveying the whole room is a man in a suit watching the ladies, watching the parents, watching the children play, and taking notes. With all those other people taking notes why the heck did I have to? My handwritings terrible. Nobody could have read it anyway.
Now we were told just to let the kids play. Easy enough. But no! Those sneaky devils put all that great plastic in the room and took all the boxes away. The kids just stood there with wide eyes. One little one even turned and asked her mother, “Mama, where are the boxes?”
After a while the girls did get the hint and started playing, but of course every one of them wanted the same toy. There was some crying and fighting and one case of one girl belting another with a plastic animal. Mom was the epitome of diplomacy, “Gloria, we do not hit others with horses.” Gloria was ready with an answer, “But Mama, they’re jousting.”
Well jousting or not it was little Princess Ohh! who came up with the truest solution. While all the kids were fighting over the same toy and all the adults were taking notes, my daughter took a moment to gather up all the other toys. I thought she was being selfish but was told by the man in the suit to write it down but not disturb the girls. Then as girls lost their bid for the magical toy everyone wanted, they had to come over to my little one to get another one.
One lady smiled and commented, “Oh look, she’s sharing!” I knew different. My progeny was selling toys to the losers for candy. Yep, for my princess the best play in the world is an old-fashioned Con-Game.
So that was that. They took my notes and sent us all home. Out in the parking lot I overheard some of the little girls talking. “Man, those toys sucked,” said one. “I hated all of it,” said another. Then one particularly smart looking young lady added, “They should figure out a way to get our opinion before they make crap like that.”
Thank you for laughing and Please read a little longer