Cora was looking through the Etcetera section of Craigslist in the hopes of finding a gig for the next day. She came across one that said ‘$100 cash and a night in a luxury hotel simply for filing out a survey about the hotel in the morning.’ The ad asked her to send in her name, age (for demographic reasons) and a picture (So they knew she wasn’t a spammer). She answered the ad and continued searching for a gig assuming that her e mail would get lost amoung a million responses. She was thrilled when the phone rang and it was a woman calling about the ad.
Hi, Cora this is Sally with Double Impact marketing. I was calling about the study. Can you answer a few questions?
“Sure,” Cora said eagerly.
“How often do you stay in four star hotels?
“Six times a year,” Cora said guessing at the appropriate answer.
“What is your annual income?”
“A hundred and twenty thousand,” Cora guessed again.
“How many hours of TV do you watch on your average luxury hotel stay?”
“Um, three?” Cora said.
“And what is your approximate height and weight?”
“Um, I’m about five four and a hundred and twenty eight pounds,” Cora answered wondering what was going on.”
“That’s great,” Sally enthused.
“Now, the study would involve staying overnight at the downtown Hilton on 5th Avenue. You would have to be there no later than 3:00 on Thursday and leave no later than 6:00 am; can you do this?”
Cora agreed to be in the study. She was to meet Sally the next day at a coffee shop near the hotel. She would receive her key and several survey forms. She was told to wear jeans and sneakers. The whole thing sounded strange. She wondered if she was going to be kidnaped. She Googled Double Impact Marketing and found their website. She called and asked for Sally and they told her she was at lunch.
She arrived at the coffee shop right on time the next day. Sally, a petite brunette greeted her as soon as she came in and walked her over to a seat in the corner. She seemed extremely nervous as she went over the instructions.
“Okay, so this is market research for several different clients one is obviously the hotel, the other is Pepper’s Pizza and the others are Sport Time Clothing and Comcast. You will be asked to go up to your room, make sure everything in the room works. If something doesn’t work, don’t call the front desk just write it down on your survey form. At 6:00 order a small peperoni pizza and a Coke from Pepper’s and fill out the form. You are to have the TV on from the time you get there til 11:00 PM. When you get up in the morning, come right back over here without checking out and I’ll pay you, “
“Okay, do you want me to check out the gym or the lounge?”
“No! Just stay in your room.”
“Wear this with the hoodie on the whole time,” Sally said handing her an orange and blue Broncos hoodie. You’ll fill out a survey on that too.”
Cora walked to the hotel and did as she was told. She watched a Soprano’s marathon, ordered her food and took a long hot bath. She filled out all her surveys and went to bed where she was unable to sleep. She was afraid she would miss the alarm. She wanted to explore the grounds, but she was afraid she would be disqualified.
In the morning she returned to the coffee house, but it was not open. She stood outside of it for about five minutes. She was about to walk back when she heard the sound of a car screeching around the corner. Sally parked clumsily and got out of the car. She appeared to be sweating profusely.
“Hey,” she said.
She reached into her purse quickly and retrieved five rumpled twenty dollar bills and stuffed them in Cora’s hand.
“Thanks for everything, do you have the key?”
“Yes,” Cora said handing it over.
“And the hoodie.”
Cora took the hoodie off and handed it to her.
“Thanks, I’ll be in touch,” Sally said.
“Um, don’t you want the surveys?”
“Oh, yeah…yeah that’s fine,” She said taking them.
“I hope I filled them out right,” Cora said.
“They look fine,” sally said not looking at them.
As Cora walked away she noticed Sally putting on the sweatshirt before getting in her car. She stood and waited for the bus. She pretended she didn’t notice the red stain on one of the twenties.