Authentic Research

**The following post was previously published on Teaching Tuck and Ty, 2009.**

Okay. So. I went to ‘a sandwich shop’ earlier this week. I shall not divulge any proper nouns, but they had some skilled ‘artists’ behind the counter, let’s just say. Upon my entrance, I learned that they were conducting some research on their sandwiches, and if I would simply agree to participate and answer a few questions, I could have a free sandwich.

Free? Say no more. Done. Sign me up.

So, indeed, I filled out their paperwork, offered them my phone number, gathered my coupon, and ate a free – and delicious – sandwich of the custom-made variety.

But that’s not quite where it ends. Because that in itself is not entirely bloggable. Read on.

Tonight, on our way home from a stellar date (that ended at 8:15 because we are older and more tired than ever before), my cell phone rang. Turns out: it’s a guy following up on my sandwich experience.

“Ma’am, could I ask you a few questions about your sandwich experience this week?”


“Okay. How are you?”

(Like, right now? Or how was I during my sandwich experience? Or how am I about my sandwich experience? And can we please stop calling it my sandwich experience?)

“I’m fine. Thank you.”

“Okay. Let’s see. It says here you had an oven roasted chicken sandwich.”

“‘Tis true.”

“I’m sorry. What?”

Sorry. Too quick on the varied answers, apparently.

“Yes. I did. Yes. Oven roasted. That’s me.”

“Okay. And it says you had it with cheese?”

“No, no cheese.”

“But it says you had grated parmesan.”

“But I didn’t. No cheese.”

“No cheese. Hmmm. Okay. And you had it toasted?”


“It was supposed to be toasted.”

“But I didn’t want it toasted.”

“But it was supposed to be.”

“Well, it wasn’t.”

“Could you clarify, for our interview?”

“Yes. I asked for it to be untoasted, and I received it untoasted. Per my request.”

“Hmmm.” This was getting complicated. Not so much for me, but for the poor interviewer.

(Note: I will spare you most of the details. The conversation was no less than 25 minutes long.)

“Okay, ma’am, for the following questions, would you please answer with one of the following choices: I liked very much, I liked a little, I neither liked nor disliked, I disliked a little, or I disliked very much.”

That’s kind of a lot of choices to remember in the car. But… “Sure.”

“How would you rate the overall appearance of the sandwich?”

“I liked it.”

“Okay. But would you say you liked it very much, you liked it a little, or you neither liked nor disliked it.”

Are you kidding me? We can’t do this online, with a few click-click-clicks??

“Um, I liked it very much.”

“Okay. And the overall size of the sandwich. Would you say it is much too big and hefty, somewhat too big and hefty, just about right, somewhat too small and skimpy, or much too small and skimpy?”

I burst out laughing. “I’m sorry… did you just say ‘hefty?'”

“I did.”

“Okay. It was big enough.”

“Ma’am, was it too big and hefty?”

“Oh, right. Hefty. It was hefty. Just about right, I mean.” Since I prefer not to refer to my portions of anything as ‘hefty.’

Honestly. I’m pretty sure Bill Gates or somebody had this exact situation in mind when they invented a faster, more efficient way.

“And you mentioned it was toasted.”

“No, I didn’t.”

“Ma’am, it’s just the way the interview is worded.”

“Um, okay. But I didn’t.”

“I know. Would you say it was toasted way too much, a little too much, just about right, a little too little, or toasted way too little?”

“It wasn’t toasted.”

“I know.”

“So… I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to say.”

“Well, I can’t tell you what to say.”

“Okay. Right. I guess it was just right. Untoasted. Like I wanted it.”

“Right. And would you say it was toasted much too hot, a little too hot, just about right, a little too cool, or much too cool?”

“I don’t think I understand the question.”

“How was it toasted?”

“It wasn’t.”

“I know.”

(Am I being punk’d?)

“Then… I suppose I would say it was just right.”

“Thank you, ma’am.”

We discussed each and every vegetable and condiment on the sandwich, the texture of the bread, the sweetness of the sandwich, the chewiness of the chicken, and the messiness of the experience.

“Slightly messy.”

“But ma’am, would you say it was much too messy, a little too messy, just about right, a little neat, or very neat?”

For heaven’s sake. “A little messy. I think I used four napkins.”

As we were approaching the second half-hour of the conversation, and into the personal health questions regarding my overall diet preferences and the last time I was on a diet similar to South Beach, Atkins, Weight Watchers, or Jenni Craig, I asked if we could please pause and continue another time.

And so we will. Tomorrow afternoon. The fun continues.




Tricia Lott Williford

Comments are closed

  1. That settles it, I will under no circumstances accept a so called free sandwich. I would have lost patience early on in the conversation. Did this individual speak with an Indian accent?

  2. No such thing as a free lunch. There is always a price to be paid. 🙂
    I remember reading this the first time. I laughed just as much this time.

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