The Virtual Ticket Redeem Counter
For many years now, I’ve filled out surveys. First they were Email surveys, of the “what’s your favorite” and “which do you prefer” variety. I felt so clever because I concocted long paragraph answers for what should have been one-word answers. Then, they were Emode surveys, of the “what kind of this-thing-or-that are you?” Some of these were Official Personality Tests that were pages and pages long but had really detailed results. I took mine before the website realized that people would pay for the results.
Then somehow, I found a site where I could get paid for filling out surveys. It was geared toward teenagers like me, and it was called something hip. They paid me by a point system, but they also paid my self-esteem meter. My opinions were valid enough to be surveyed by an official company.
I encountered this site at the late end of my teenage years. Only a few years passed. They automatically ushered me into the adult-oriented program–this website has fewer bright colors and cool images than the teenage version, and they wanted my opinion on insurance and cars, not on shopping or brand names. My points still got shifted over from those teenage years, and I had enough to redeem for something cool.
I’d perused the equivalent of the plastic rings and pieces of candy at the ticket arcade, rubbing the seams of my skee-ball tickets and trying to find the best deal for what I had in my hand. I ended up picking a prize: a lipstick case. Black vinyl, with a place for two lipstick tubes, a mirror on the flap, and a snap to hold the flap closed. Sophisticated and smooth for a girl who knew she’d need this for an elegant night out someday.
But the prize I picked was used once, maybe twice; this girl didn’t have too many elegant nights out as it was. Just like most prizes that walk out of that blacklight-lit counter. But I had points leftover! And the prizes changed to cooler prizes! So I filled out the short surveys or the ones that didn’t ask me from where I got my car insurance.
Until Toby. Until today. I’ve realized that for months now, I’ve simply deleted the Email invitations. I’ve stopped considering each survey’s content. A human being needs my attention more than a marketing company needs to redefine a brand name. I should have more tender moments and more writing time instead of trying to make sure my original opinion affects the popular opinion.
So, before I unsubscribed to all the pleas for my opinion, I cashed in the points that have been quietly waiting for me. And as I perused their prize counter, I actually found things I’ve been wanting to buy, independent of wandering through this website’s wares.
I didn’t buy the glovebox organizer, made of the same vinyl as the lipstick holder with pockets for insurance info, a flashlight, a pen, and the tire gauge. I didn’t buy the Barnes and Noble gift card because we have no more shelf space. I used my computer’s calculator and bought two things. Two things with all the points I was trying to save to get the strobe light with four different color settings hanging way up there next to the giant stuffed dinosaur. And yes, there are still points leftover.
And what did I get with the leftover points? It’s better than ten pieces of candy from behind the glass counter. I proudly donated ten trees to Trees for the Future. Watch the video at the bottom of the page. It’s cool.
I got things at the redeem counter for the future: visual inspiration for a young mind and physical inspiration for a young community. A little more time for a squirming, sun-bright young son and some more me-time for his young, inspired mum.