Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Getting Focused

The sun is high, the sky Magritte blue-accented-with-puffy-white. It finally feels like winter, although after a real cold snap, today's temps would seem balmy.

So many ideas, so many projects I could start, unfinished ones I could finish. I actually started writing in the green notebook again--that's the one I was feeling uncomfy about, felt the words needed to be more polished there. Bah! It's just paper.

Yesterday, I was scheduled to participate in a focus group about I was actually excited at the possibility of talking about my shopping habits with a group of other New Yorkers. It was just a few blocks from FIT, where I was planning to go that day anyway, and they were going to pay me $125 cash.

I started a journal entry (in the green notebook) in anticipation of making some interesting observations about our culture, the marketplace, my fellow humans. The words were workaday, as if I were reporting to some supervisor. No matter, I thought, the experience will surely spark something more lively.

As it turned out, the whole thing was a non-event. I showed up right at 3:15, signed in, got a little table tent with "Amy L." printed on it, filled out a brief questionnaire, and went to the waiting area. After about five minutes, a young blond woman with a clipboard came and asked me some of the questions I'd already answered over the phone the previous week in order to "qualify." She thanked me and left. I continued to enter contact numbers into my new cell phone. Around 3:45, a petite dark-haired woman came in and called some names. Three women went with her. "Amy? I'll be back to talk to you in a little bit," she reassured.

I was struck by how this was and wasn't like waiting in the doctor's office: the surroundings were about as enticing--gray carpet, white walls, gray plastic chairs--but I wasn't feeling the sense of frustration. I had a slight concern that, since I hadn't started yet, they would be keeping me after the designated time of 5 p.m., but that was all.

At 4 p.m. sharp, the young man from the front desk came in and asked me to come with him. I initialed the last column of the sign-in sheet, he handed me an envelope, and the young folks at Advanced Focus bid me goodbye.

Yes, the envelope contained the promised cash. I made a hundred and twenty-five bucks for sitting around for forty-five minutes. End of story. Capitalism rules.

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