The other day, my brother informed me that his car had a flat tire, that he'd called the RAC to come and fix it and that he was going out. I was sad, happy and proud of him at that time. Happy that he was going out, sad that his car had a flat tire, and proud that he'd already found a way to resolve his car troubles. I was also a little confused about why he was informing me of these things, but that only lasted until his next sentence.
"So when the RAC guy gets here, can you give him my keys?"
Of course I could! I could definitely be responsible for that job. I'm a sophisticated, intelligent twenty something. Acknowledging the RAC man and handing over some keys was a positively simple job for me, and one that I knew I would handle confidently and professionally. I assured him that I was up to the task and took the all important keys from him, leaving him to go out and enjoy his thriving social life while I remained at home watching Simpsons repeats.
Twenty minutes later the doorbell rang. Before opening it, without even looking, I knew that this would be the aforementioned man from the RAC. It was just like instinct or something - some ingrained sense built in to our evolutionary pattern that lets you instantly know that the person at your door is exactly the person you've been expecting all evening. The human mind is truly an amazing thing.
I readied myself. This was the moment. I knew it. I made sure I had the keys in my hand and I answered the door with the appropriate gusto. The plan went without a hitch. Within mere minutes the man from the RAC had my brothers car keys and was already at work fixing the problem. I patted myself on the back for a job well done, treated myself to a penguin biscuit and sat down to continue my third Simpsons episode of the evening (it was the one where Homer and Flanders get married in Las Vegas - a classic).
A short time later the doorbell rang again. The RAC man was back after successfully finishing his work on my brothers car. I congratulated him on a job well done, and signed the form he held out to confirm that he had completed his work to a satisfactory standard. I considered offering a gold star sticker to it, like I always got in school for my good work, but wasn't sure if we had any available and feared disappointing the man if we didn't. I stayed quiet on the matter.
I considered the task my brother gave me complete, when the man suddenly revealed a hitherto unmentioned part of the job. He asked if I would be willing to complete a short survey on his special RAC touchscreen-computer-tablet-thing about the evenings dealings.
Wanting nothing more than to help, I of course accepted this. "I can manage this" I thought, "look at how well I've managed the key situation, and the signing of the bit of paper. I'm a veritable master of dealing with the RAC, I can handle anything they throw at me. Survey? Pah! I'll do the best damn multiple choice picking they've ever seen."
I took the computer-tablet-thing from him and read the first question.
"How would you rate the level of customer service experienced when you first phoned the RAC?"
Uh-oh. How could I answer that? It was my brother who had called them, not me! And he wasn't here! What do I do? Was it too late to just abandon the survey, to hand the computer-tablet-thing back to the man and explain that I couldn't possibly answer all these questions? Oh no, I couldn't do that. How would I explain that I simply didn't know the answers? What would the man think of me? No, I must finish the survey. I'd accepted the task and I'd be damned if I wasn't going to see it through to the end.
But what answer do I give? How important are these surveys? I had no way of knowing how many people really took these. What if my answers were part of a very small group? They might significantly skew the results. Maybe if I just put high marks for them. Yes, that would be the best thing, surely. But what if it wasn't? Maybe the customer service was terrible, but by offering high marks I'd only be encouraging that and preventing the company from resolving it for the benefit of other customers.
But if I gave an unjustly low mark, someone who doesn't deserve it may get in trouble. Oh what to do? Even the neutral answers seem unfair. They might deserve to be praised or scolded and I offer neither. I pondered the problem for several seconds, unnerved by the enormity of my decision and the harsh, impatient eyes of the man who had offered me this impossible test watching me. I gave up, let the fates, my subconscious and my natural motor skills decide by randomly hitting the screen with my finger without looking at it. I missed on the first attempt, but the second was a success. Having picked an option the survey moved on to question two:
"How would you rate the response time of the RAC to your initial request for help?"
Oh God. Another one I wasn't qualified to answer. I selected randomly again, doing the same for the other eight questions in the survey. Finally it was over and I handed the computer-tablet-thing back to the RAC man and bade him farewell.
Closing the door behind me I pondered the consequences of my insincere answers, and worried about the hell that I may unwittingly have unleashed upon the employees and/or customers of the RAC's breakdown service.
That's the last time I do a favour for my brother.