Research War Stories: 'Sir, do you realize you're blind?'
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.
Joan Rogers recalls an interviewer working for her company who was doing door-to-door interviews, placing motor oil with households for an in-car test. She'd just given two cases of oil to a man when she realized that he was blind. "Sir, do you realize you're blind?" she asked.
"Certainly," he replied.
When she began to stammer about whether he was really eligible to participate in the survey, he went on to inform her that he could tell when his oil needed changing by how it felt.
The interviewer, almost expecting him to ask if she'd like to go for a spin, instead left the oil with him. It turned out that the gentleman later completed the survey after using the oil. (Of course, someone else was the driver. At least that's what the respondent told the research company during the callback interview.)
Nancy Levine reports that in a ride-and-drive car study she conducted, a respondent who was curious about trunk space unscrewed his artificial leg and crawled into the trunk. Nancy resisted the temptation to shut the trunk behind him.