"Hello, my name is Ignatius from Newspoll and I'd like to do a survey. This will take four minutes on average. Do you agree to participate in this survey?"
When he rang I was thinking; whenever I read that 61% of the general population between the ages of 21 and 65 reckon that boat people are illegal immigrants who should be consigned to the remote provinces of PNG, I wonder why nobody asked me. Obviously I'm not part of the general population. And some kind soul from Newspoll is just about to include me! Whoa!
So I answered, "Yes, of course."
Once Ignatius (no, really) from Newspoll had ascertained my demographic status - single mother, high school drop-out who is living on an obscure, poverty-line allowance, aka Passive Consumer of Crappy Junk - he asked, "Have you heard of these companies before?"
"No. No. Yes. No. Yes."
"Okay. Are you subscribed to any pay television?"
"I don't have a tv."
"I still have to ask: Do you subscribe to Foxtel?"
"No. Look, I don't have a tv."
"Honestly, you're wasting both our time. I really don't own a tv."
"I know but -"
"Well just put down no for all the tv questions."
"I can't do that. I'm afraid I have to ask every single question."
Sigh. "Okay." ...
..."Do you smoke?"
"How many cigarettes a day do you smoke?"
On we go, until I realised he wasn't going to ask me about boat people or Julia Gillard, and one good question seeped into my rapidly eroding brain. I think it became entertainment for me. He was dealing with a woman on the edge. This woman, sitting at home writing a doctorate, when she should really be out catching fish or sailing east to west in a lovely big boat, needed a distraction from her shackles.
|Mary Leunig, "There's no place like home" 1985.|
Naturally it all went downhill from there.
"Hey, I'm on the Do Not Call register. Are you guys telemarketers? How did you get my number?"
"We got your randomly selected number from our, ah, database. The Do Not Call register does not apply to us, Ms Toa."
"So who are you contracting for?"
"Newspoll collects market surveys for companies such as some I have just mentioned, Ms Toa."
"So ... these companies are paying you to ask me for information so they can more successfully market me their crap? What is this? There's a missing link in the food chain somewhere here. And how can you bypass the Do Not Call register if you are working for the commercial sector?
"Err," Ignatius from Newspoll's alarm went off; we've got a live one we've got a live one we've got a live one.
"I would like to continue this survey. Would you like to speak to my supervisor?"
"What is your postcode then? So we can get an idea of your location."
"Can you give me your location please?"
"Don't you have access to the latest national census? I do. It's just been released. (It's here, for crying out loud) The ABS has got shitloads of juice on folk like me. Why do you need to ring me at home and ask me this stuff all over again?"
"O - kay. Could I confirm your phone number Ms Toa." He reeled off a number I'd never heard before. It certainly wasn't mine but he had the local area code right. Talk about downhill. Just because you are paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you, right?
"That's not my phone number."
"Oh. Alright. Can you please tell me your actual phone number?"
"You're talking to me on my actual phone number!"
"I'm afraid I cannot access the number I've rung you on."
"But you are accessing me."
Ignatius from Newspoll gave up at this point. My daughter says that she often gives up at this point too. With me, that is.
He tried one last trick. "Look Sarah. Perhaps I can get my supervisor to talk to you. Can you hold the line?"
He was quiet for a few moments and I could almost hear the shake of his supervisor's head.
"My supervisor asked if he could ring you back."
"You don't want him to ring you back?"
"Not I don't Ignatius. We've just done the phone number thing. All I want right now is a nice cup of fecking tea. Sorry (and I couldn't help saying 'sorry' because I know Ignatius's position in our world's chookpen) You've just done my fecking head in, Ignatius, goodbye."
"Okay then. Goodbye Sarah."
The Lottery, with its weekly pay-out of enormous prizes, was the one public event to which the proles paid serious attention. It was probable that there were millions of proles for whom the Lottery was the principal if not the only reason for remaining alive. It was their delight, their folly, their anodyne, their intellectual stimulant. Where the Lottery was concerned, even people who could barely read and write seemed capable of intricate calculations and staggering feats of memory.
George Orwell, 1984
If only Ignatius from Newspoll had offered me a hint of cash to participate in his survey, I probably would have succumbed, rolled over and exposed my belly to him. Yeah.
Missing links, food chains, the proles and all ...