Research War Stories: All of the games tumbled to the floor...
In the popular War Stories column, which has run sporadically in Quirk's since 1994, Art Shulman, president of Shulman Research in Van Nuys, Calif., presents humorous tales of life in the research trenches, based on his own experiences and those of researcher friends and colleagues. Each month in our e-newsletter we feature a few anecdotes from past War Stories columns.
Donna Tinari-Siegfried reports doing a series of focus groups with children on lighted pegboard toys. The sessions were audio and videotaped and after the first evening's session her clients left for dinner. Siegfried planned to join them after cleaning up a few things. She went into the focus room and to her horror, tripped over an electric cord. All of the games tumbled to the floor, with hundreds of colored pieces, arranged into intricate designs, flying from the pegboards. After saying to herself, "Holy smokes!" (okay, that's not exactly what she said), she called the restaurant and told her client she was a bit more fatigued than she thought and would see them the next day. Siegfried spent the better part of the night putting all the colored pieces back in their spaces.
The next day's sessions went beautifully. A day later, Siegfried received a call from her client, who'd had an opportunity to view the tapes, which unbeknownst to Siegfried, were still running when she tripped and had captured her in full clumsiness. The client was nice enough to express appreciation for all the time Siegfried had put into redoing the designs.
From then on, Siegfried made sure her video and audio tapes were shut off immediately following each session.
Sharon Livingston tells about a speaker delivering a talk on how to avoid presentation jitters. The speaker's technique was to take two steps forward, two steps backward, then two steps forward again, and deliver the presentation.
But he didn't get to take the second set of two steps forward, because he fell off the podium while taking the two steps backward.