If I were to list a few adjectives to describe my own characteristics then quite a few come to mind. Like creative. Chatty. Loyal. A little bit impatient. Funny. Friendly. Opinionated. Stubborn. A little bit hot-headed. Instinctive. Passionate.
If you were to ask my husband he’d have a fairly similar analysis: creative, a right blether, loyal, impatient, hilarious, keeps chatting to all and sundry, OPINIONATED, stubborn, impulsive and hot-headed, follows her instincts/illogical, passionate. I think he’d also enumerate: untidy, a good cook, smart, thoughtful, kind and reliable. In private he’d probably also add sexy. But that’s his own, very unique, point of view.
Furthermore, were you to phrase the question to any of my kids, their answer’s would go something like this. Creative. Never shuts up. Loyal. Impatient. Funny. Social. OPINIONATED. Stubborn as a mule (which they’d say proudly). Instinctive. They’d also have their own contributions. Protective – our dragon mother. Tidies up when guests announce themselves. Has a huge laugh that was embarrassing when we were little, but was pretty cool when we got older. Embarrassing in general. A good cook. Wise. Strict. Helpful. Annoying. Unnecessarily anxious. Storytelling. Nosy.
I know all of this well. We often played a game at the dining table that the children had learned at school, where we told each other the other’s characteristics. When each kid hit a certain age group, it became an obsession.
A few months ago I was asked to be part of a panel who answers questions, mostly with regard to advertisements, but based on my own opinions about anything and everything. I get paid for the honour. Literally cents for each questionnaire (I started months ago, do a questionnaire most days and I still haven’t made my first 10 Euros). Obviously, I’m not in it for the money. I’m in for the chance to say exactly what I think. About advertisements. About corona. About supermarket policies. About the government. About holidays. About the media.
But there’s this little issue. I have very little brand awareness. I have a few brands that I know and like but apart from that I just tend to ignore them. So sometimes I’m hit with a questionnaire and I’m really rather clueless.
Then to top it all, this thing happened the other day.
I was sent my questionnaire. I opened it with glee, wondering what I’d be asked to give my opinion on now. (I’m still waiting to be quizzed on what to do about Trump, Brexit, the school system, the neighbour’s constant need to keep drilling – will our semi collapse at some point because there is no actual wall left? Though, to be fair, I have been able to direct some sensibleness with regard to environmental policies within supermarkets etc). Again, unfortunately, the subject was advertising (that one comes up far too regularly, in my opinion) but at least this time they’d tried to make it a bit more fun.
I had to play a game. It was a kind of click game, and at first I had to do practice runs which began with easy steps and then built up to the grand finale. I had to click all over diverse magazine entries. I clicked merrily away on various things that drew me.
Suddenly, my clicking frenzy was over. I’d mastered many clicks. I am after all an internet professional. And, I’ve played many a round of candy crush and am a true expert in clicking.
Swiftly a new page uploaded on my screen, with one single question.
“What was the last film you watched at the cinema?”
I was thrown slightly. I knew that I’d been to the cinema quite recently. To the drive-in cinema. It had been our very first experience of a drive-in. We’d watched a film on the enormous screen. Cricking our necks and wishing we’d brought even more cushions. And maybe some popcorn. And less salty crisps. Perhaps a blanket… What was the film called? It was German… A comedy… I remembered I had specifically looked for a German film because I hate watching dubbed English films. I get totally confused lip reading in English while listening to alien German voices. Nope. Gone. I’d have to look it up. But I had absolutely no idea what it was called. So I typed “German comedy” into the internet. Then I searched. No, no, no… “German film comedy”… No, no, no… “Recent German films”? Ah there it was. Das perfekte Geheimnis!! (The perfect secret – brilliant by the way, really funny, do watch it if it comes to drive-in cinema near you). So I typed D-A-S was that the right article? I doubled checked… Yes, ok P-E-R-F-E-K-T check no? It has an E on the end? Why do they randomly keep adding E’s or ER’s or EN’s even ES’s? Come to think of it, why do they sometimes make the simple A into an Ä? How do I spell Geheimnis? Check. Enter.
My children and my husband may also tell you that I’m a bit of a perfectionist. Except when it comes to tidying. And maybe an overthinker?
The screen refreshed and the new question reverted me back to my previous clicking experience. I had to list all the objects I’d seen and all the brands.
I’d been had. They’d distracted me with a simple question and now all I could remember seeing was an onion and a radish. And I’m not entirely sure it was actually a radish. Don’t they know about my storytelling tendencies? Don’t they know, by now, that I would need time to look up the information they required so I wouldn’t make a mistake? Don’t they already know that I don’t really care about brands much at all and what I really want is to tell them, at length, all about my thoughts on Trump and Brexit and the lack of a speed limit on the Autobahn and my disdain at us still using fossil fuels, and that my new favourite author happens to be David Mitchell and that I recently read Zadie Smith’s Swing Time, but I much preferred White teeth. That I believe in the right of abortion, although I would dread having one myself and would find it a very traumatic experience. That I believe you are beautiful if you are homosexual, trans, straight, black, white, religious, atheist, male or female as long as your soul is good and kind. That I think the additional costs to move house are ridiculous. That I love travelling but don’t mind one jolt if I never ever fly again.
The next page was, in my mind, a little sarcastic. It told me that we are all able to forget things. Then it presented me with a huge list of brands and asked me which ones I’d seen in the click exercise.
Was it a trick question? Were all those brands in the game or only some of them? Besides, another of my characteristics is honesty. I actively struggle to tell any lie. So I clicked on just two.
I had to fill out my age: 48.
Now the survey company believes I am a 48 year old woman who has a worryingly high level of forgetfulness. But that I can still spell “Das perfekte Geheimnis”. Almost as if it were my native tongue.
The next questionnaire will probably be a health one.