Thursday, October 16, 2008

Shhh... it's a secret!

Secret shopping, actually; or mystery shopping if you prefer. It sounds kinda' fun, but it is work and it usually doesn't pay much more than a free meal. I used to do it a lot when I lived in Iowa but not so much out here. It's usually not worthwhile to spend a couple hours and two or three bucks minimum to hop on the Metro for a free sandwich. Some of the companies have cool stuff like Six Flags visits, trips to the spa, or hotel stays; but it's not always worth it. You have to remember every painstaking detail about your visit and it can take a while to fill out the online surveys. Once I got a nasty email and a bad grade (yes, we get graded) because I didn't describe the outside lighting at a movie theater. Seriously, the lighting in the parking lot lowered my score. She was awfully picky for someone who was paying me in movie tickets and popcorn.
Last weekend I was checking for available shopping jobs and I saw that my local grocery store had a shop available. There was no cash payment, just some free groceries but it was the place I usually shop so I jumped on it. Well, apparently I jumped a little too quickly b/c instead of signing up for my local store, I signed up for a different location that wasn't even on the Metro line. I actually had no idea where this place was. Oops.
The logical thing to do would've been to contact the company and try to switch the locations. Instead, I illogically took responsibility for my mistake and decided to go shopping across town. That included studying the bus route to leave work and go to the store, and then from the store home - a 30-40 minute trip each way. The Metro fare and bus transfer made for a more expensive trip. Plus, did I mention? I had no idea where the hell I was going. My free groceries ended up being not so free. In fact, the picture above ended up costing me about $3.00 in cash, 90 minutes of my time, and a slight pain in my arse. I thought I was signing up for some free groceries from the store I was already going to. Instead, I clicked the wrong link on a website and ended up having to step outside of my comfort zone. It was definitely worth it.
It's kind of silly, but somehow going to a new grocery store made me realize how quickly I fell into a routine out here. I also remembered why I fell in love with this city so quickly.
I almost got onto the wrong bus, but I realized my mistake and apologized to the driver. The bus driver was really helpful, and other people on the bus were quick to offer directions. The weather was great, and it was such a pleasant walk through a new neighborhood. There really are some very friendly people here in DC. Maybe it's because they're used to tourists, but most people aren't only willing to help, they're forthcoming in offering to help.
It turns out I signed up to shop at the tiniest store in the area. My cabinets are unusually well stocked for the moment and they didn't have a lot of the things I needed. Since I didn't want to buy anything perishable before my long trip home, I ended up throwing some random things together and grabbing the treasures you see above. It was a big mix-up and I didn't get much out of it, but the reminder to break from my routine was a much-needed one. This city has so much to offer and I ride around underground every day, only to emerge to walk between the Metro stop and work; or the Metro stop and home. What a waste. I really need to get out more.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It was fun reading about your day. Your friend Rich.