Phone Survey on Canadian Health
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Tue, 11 Feb 97 01:06:37 -0800
Subject: Phone Survey on Canadian Health
Forwarded-by: Patrick Tufts <email@example.com>
Forwarded-by: Scott Ellis <firstname.lastname@example.org>
One of my part-time jobs is doing phone surveys. They're a pretty
varied lot, ranging from ill-conceived pieces of expensive propaganda
so badly written and blatantly manipulative they'd be laughable if your
employers didn't actually want people to answer them, to intelligent, honest
queries on matters of real concern to many people. We did one of the latter
a while back, a well thought-out, if wordy, survey on Canadian health and
health policy. The one sticking point for some interviewers was the last
section, which asked quite pointed questions on high-risk sexual practices.
But it was prefaced by a well-worded intro which stressed the public health
aspect of the questions and I had very little trouble getting people to
answer them. Older respondents often sounded like they'd been punched
somewhere painful, but they answered.
All in all, the survey went very smoothly. Well, there was the one old
guy, somewhere in rural Saskatchewan. To the very first question: "Would
you say, in relation to others your age, that your health is excellent,
good, fair, or poor?", his response was "Pretty good--I get my water from
a well." That's all he wanted to say, too--he got his water from a well.
And there was the mother of five who'd never had vaginal sex. I had to
reconsider, briefly, at that point. "What I mean, ma'am, is regular-type
sex." *That* she'd had. Actually, what was on the tip of my tongue was
"Yew know whut I mean... vuh-GIN-nia style! HOT, HUMID--GRITS AND RED-EYE
GRAVY--MAGNOLIA BLOSSOMS..." But, somehow, I don't think she'd have gotten
The only real stopper came from a serious, thoughtful fellow when I
delivered the following intro and question: "Studies have shown that many
Canadians have tried or experimented with (Here, I usually thought of lines
of grappling couples attired in white labcoats and nothing else.) anal sex.
In the past year, have you engaged in anal sex, sir?"
A pause. Then, in a tone of earnest inquiry, the following question:
"Um, how would that work, exactly?"
© 1997 Peter Langston