Lord Maitreya's Internet Marketing Adventures

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The Harrowing Survey

Since I am one of the few college students that prefers a grade of A in a class, it should come as no surprise to you, the reader, that I have no problem going the extra mile to get school work done properly.  Because I don’t really have any friends (girlfriend?  What’s that?) and my life mainly consists of work, school, and Xbox, I was delighted when my teacher told me to do some primary research (administer a survey to the public to gain new information).  This gave me an opportunity to shake up the monotony in my life and go the extra mile for a school project, which is my final thesis for my undergraduate degree.  The stakes are high, so I’ll gladly do the work.  I made a simple survey about my thesis topic (in a nutshell: urban gardening and who does it), printed it out, and set off on the ferry to San Francisco.

This is what I thought the day would be like. Jesus... I was wrong.

(Image courtesy of wake-up-art.com)

It should be noted that I suffer from a debilitating disease known as agoraphobia (with social phobic tendencies for bonus points).  Contrary to what most people believe or think they know, this horrible malady is NOT fear of open spaces.  It’s fear of open spaces filled with strangers and being alone.  It’s a large part of why I live a lot of my life indoors except for the few activities I do outside (snowboarding, skimboarding, hiking) where the benefits outweigh the terrible feeling I get when in large crowds.  I knew before I even got on the boat that the farmers’ market where I planned to administer my survey was going to be crowded, and I tried to mentally prepare myself, but it’s not easy.  I don’t just get nervous when in large groups, I feel a little unsafe, exposed, and vulnerable.  It’s a feeling I would not wish on you if you were my worst enemy.  It sucks.

This image actually sums it up pretty well

(Image courtesy of mystarbucks wordpress blog)

Anyways,   I got off the boat with a spring in my step and every intention of being a survey-administering pro.  I was wearing my “bling bling” hoodie, that has a picture of a seagull with those six-pack rings around its neck with the words “bling bling.”  I felt it sent a pretty good ‘green’ message and would aid me in my quest to get more info for my project.  I set myself up on Embarcadero, right outside the ferry terminal, smack dab in the middle of everything.  Then the customary panic attack started.  I’m used to them at this point, but it’s always jarring.  You sweat, you feel like your heart is shutting down, you get dizzy… After it passed, I carefully examined the crowd, only wanting to give my survey to people who were actually shopping at the farmers’ market, not those just passing through.  Armed with my trusty clipboard and a pen, I approached my first target: a man in his mid thirties.  I was met with a sense of indifference.

“Okay,” I thought to myself, “this guy just isn’t interested.”  That first encounter will be among the most polite human interaction I will have today.  The second mark, a woman in her early to mid forties, was walking my way.  I asked her if she was a resident of San Francisco.  She literally said, “F–k off.”  What happened to courtesy?  Eying my third mark, an Asian woman with a bag of oranges, I posited the same question, “Hello, miss.  Are you a resident of San Francisco?”  She went past rude and right into nasty: “Get away from me.”

“Christ,” I thought, “what’s wrong with these people?”  Is this the San Francisco love I always hear about?

I’ll spare you a play-by-play, but let’s just say I got about 19 responses in an hour of asking literally every person carrying a grocery bag who was in the area.  I must have asked well over 120 people.  On a scale of 1-10 of how hurtful the average person was, I’d rate it about an 8.  I was called names (political wingnut, douchebag, hippie loser… the list goes on.  I was told to get a job almost twenty percent of the time), accused of violating people’s personal space (absolutely false), and being a rabble-rouser.  No less than three vendors asked me to leave because I was scaring people away, and then a man identifying himself as security politely told me to, “get the hell out of here.”  Defeated, I wandered the thirty five yards back to the ferry terminal to discover that, as per the weekend ferry schedule, my boat didn’t leave for two hours.  I entertained myself by looking through books at book passage and helping a crazy-but- lovable old woman feed the pigeons.  It was delightful compared to the jarring and soul-crushing experience I just put myself through for the sake of a better grade.

Sixteen dollars and fifty cents is what it cost me for nineteen surveys filled out.    I was astonished at how blatantly rude these people were.  Aside from that, my fear of open spaces put me in a psychologically vulnerable state of mind that these people seemed to perceive and exploit in a dazzling display of nastiness.

To say the least, it was a harrowing experience.  I will now go about the task of putting my paltry data into SPSS, and spend the next few hours trying to remember how to work this stupid program.  Yes, I took a class on how to use it, but I promptly forgot how to use the program about five minutes after the semester ended.

Oh well lol.


September 18, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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