MY COMPUTER – “Thank you for dining at our Choke & Puke at 555 Pothole Parkway from 7:14 to 8:20 last night. We hope you enjoyed your muskrat salad with elk gravy. Your waiter, Lance, said your tip was insufficient, but that’s just Lance. In order to serve you better, would you please take just half an hour to fill out this survey?” Gad, another survey from this restaurant which seems to know all about me. Are you getting surveyed to death? No matter where I go or what I buy, within days if not hours I am getting surveyed via email. “Did your food taste relatively good? Was the silverware generally clean? Did the valet bring your car around within the hour?”
Here’s another one: “At Intermittent Energy, we’d like you to participate in a quick survey regarding our Gas Standby Generator Program (when the energy is intermittent).” Regardless of whether you purchased a generator or not, we’d still like to hear your thoughts. Your responses will remain confidential and anonymous.” Huh? They want to know what I think about something I don’t want and didn’t buy, and they won’t tell anybody. Here’s another: “This is a second request to help us. We thank you for using All Thumbs Surgical Center for your recent medical care. We would like your feedback regarding your visit. We thank you in advance for participating in this important study.” A second request? I didn’t answer their first survey, and they won’t give up. At that surgical center, I had two arrows and a spear removed because I kept referring to “Indians” instead “noble Native Americans.” The federal agency which handles, uh, those people is called the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and was headed by Bryan Rice, who is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He just resigned, maybe because he got crosswise with Sen. Elizabeth “Pocahontas” Warren. The clinic was fine, although I almost swallowed the bullet they gave me to bite.
Most people probably like the idea that stores, cable companies, cafés and rat catchers want to know what we think about our recent dealings with them, but this survey biz is getting out of hand. And does anyone actually read our responses, or is it just a feel-good program? Some firms offer bait: “Dear Reader, Your feedback is important. Please take a few moments to share your comments about your subscriber experience with the Daily Bias. By completing the survey, you will be entered in a drawing for a chance to win a $100 Amazing Express gift card.” Even my grocery store’s receipt wants my opinion, and gives me a chance to win either paper or plastic. I take my car in for its 250,000-mile checkup and stand by for a deluge of email surveys. My doctor, dentist and dry cleaners want to know how I feel about my recent transaction. The hotel I just stayed at asks about my visit. I reply: “The towels were so fluffy I could hardly close my suitcase. I really enjoyed the room service champagne, and the honeymooning couple it was destined for in next room didn’t even notice.”
What’s the difference in a survey and a poll? Not much but terminology. Companies don’t poll their customers, and politicians don’t survey voters, maybe it’s because polls are so unreliable. In the 2016 Presidential election, every poll showed that Hillary Clinton would beat Donald Trump. Actually, the polls were right. Hillary beat Trump by 2.8 million votes – a fact Trump avoids noting – but that didn’t make any difference in the outcome because no one polled the Electoral Collage. Nevertheless, political parties continue to poll. First, they soften you up with praise: “As a leader in your community, we value your input in our government and country, so please answer a few question so we may clearly reflect your wisdom. Is President Donald Trump a great President or our greatest President?” “Do you approve of millions of diseased immigrants flooding our borders to rape, pillage and vote Democratic?” At the bottom; “To continue our fight for liberty, justice and against equal pay and health choices for women, please enclose a check for $1,000, $10,000 or more.”
Then we get from the other side: “Fellow American! You have been selected, because of your brilliance and general gullibility, to share your penetrating views on that clown in the White House. Please rate your opinion of the current administration with 1 being the worst and 2 being the next worst.” “Does Bernie Sanders remind you of (a) Santa Clause (b) Moses or (c) your favorite grandfather?” At the bottom: “To further combat the right-wing menace of a booming stock market and low unemployment, please send checks, cash or food stamps.” We must suspect that the results of such polls are rather lopsided. Do you ever get a survey from your member of Congress? My ex-Congressman sent out the most biased, self-serving surveys, at taxpayers’ expense, that were laughable. Maybe that’s why he’s an ex.
Besides polls and surveys arriving in my computer daily, we get phone calls. They are usually recordings. “Do you feel that being a police officer is dangerous work? Press 1 for yes or 2 for yes.” The phone rings and your first clue is hearing in the background 20 other voices from a warehouse, all mumbling the same questions: “Hello, this is (mumble mumble) and I just want to ask you a few questions.” The dog is barking at the burglar who is kicking in your front door, smoke is bellowing from the kitchen making the fire alarm scream and you just slipped on a Lago block in the hallway. “No, I don’t think global warming is a hoax.” Click. That, apparently is not the correct answer.
Oops. Another email. “In regard to our recent survey, was it complete? Ask all the right questions? Please take the next day to fill out this form. Rating 1 for excellent….”
Ashby is surveyed at email@example.com