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Research War Stories: 'Ready to shoot my supervisor...'

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.

An unnamed automotive market researcher recalls hearing the story of a ride-and-drive car clinic where, while the respondent was driving, the interviewer, a woman in her 40s, suspended her questions to chit-chat with the respondent, explaining that she formerly worked at the Post Office. "One day," the interviewer related, "there I was on the way to work. I had the gun in my car, ready to shoot my supervisor, but I thought, 'Why am I doing this? It’s not worth it.' So, I became an interviewer."

Focus group moderator Gary Friedan recalls riding in a limousine from the airport to a focus facility, along with a very important client. The limo driver, a burly woman in her 50s, was tailgating, much to Friedan's discomfort. So he asked her nicely not to stay so close behind the car in front of them. She continued to tailgate, and again Friedan nicely (at least he thought) asked her not to get so close. The woman swerved to the shoulder, stopped, turned around and told Friedan "If you don't keep quiet you're out of this car right now! Understand?"
"Yes," Friedan replied meekly, wondering what his important client thought of him now. He also thought "There goes your tip, lady."

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