Hello, Failure

Of all the enemies of literature, success is the most insidious

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Failure of the Day: Fortune

Honestly, I'm almost embarrassed to talk about this (but obviously, not too much so). It's another one of those things that prove what a seriously lucky motherfucker I am.

I love focus groups. This is not news. Seventy five or a hundred bucks for an hour or two—you can't beat it. I just participated in a group that was somewhat longer than usual: 3 hours yesterday and 6 today to "ideate" about products and services for people with MS. During the 9 hours, 3 meals were provided to us, in addition to all the soda we could drink and all the M&Ms, crackers, and cookies we could eat. And at the end, no shit: $750.

This was a special kind of group; we were carefully screened to prove that we were "lateral thinkers." I could have saved them loads of time on that score, having read Lateral Thinking by Edward De Bono in the late 80s. Their screening test was composed in part of the lady on the phone asking me to play with a paper clip and to tell her what the shapes made me think of. I told her I straightened it out completely and it made me think of a cigarette. I didn't mention that pretty much every object I look at still makes me think of a cigarette, but it didn't matter; I was in. I am way lateral, baby.

There were nine of us in the group and I have to say, except one woman who didn't really ever get the whole "ideation process," it was a very cool group of people and I had a good time. So the next time you start feeling bad for me because I have to stay inside when the temperature gets above 75, just remember this little story and get back to the business of secretly resenting my welfare queen, cripple handout good fortune.


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