Market Research in Disguise

Recently it was reported that a neo-Nazi gang is congregating in Dublin’s city centre, intimidating passers-by and singing anti-Semitic songs. Isn’t it disturbing that a city that could hold a World Cultures Festival last month could also have people like this?
I think it’s brilliant that there are so many different types of people in our city. For example: I was walking through college green, in Dublin city last week. I had just been for an interview and I was heading home, with nothing on my mind but dinner. I was just walking in the sun through Trinity and this Chinese lady approached me. ”Hello, excuuuse me meees,” she said. “Can you please stop for a moment?” So I stopped. “Can you please answer some question for us?”  There was another woman with her looking at me pleadingly. 
I thought about it for a second. You have to be quick at making excuses with market researchers. If you pause they know they have you. You have to be off the bat like ‘No, emergency, running, train, bye.’ Even feigning complete ignorance is a good move. But I was stopped, and I paused. Bad move. ‘Alright’ I said, feeling sorry for them. Only, suddenly it didn’t feel like market research as I saw the novel in her hand. Where was the clipboard, where were the badges they were meant to wear? She beckoned me over to a bench overlooking the beautiful college green. I thought to myself – they must be students doing research for a dissertation or something, they can’t be doing real market research because they have no clipboards.
How naive. The other woman just said ‘Thanks yooou.’ I smiled at her and sat in between them on the bench feeling a little silly. ‘Take this,’ she said holding out the book. ‘Okay?’ I nod taking the book from her. ‘Can you just read two of these passages,’ she says pointing to the page. ‘Sure,’ I say. I skim through them not really taking them in, except that they are kind of religious. ‘How much do I have to read?’ I ask. She points to where I must stop. ‘Okay’ I say when I’m finished. Then suddenly, with no warning, she starts talking about ‘Jesus’s bride.’ I’m confused but nod a few times. She asks me do I understand. I really don’t. I know now that this is not market research and I suddenly feel like a small child having been tempted into a pedophiles’ car with the offer of sweets – only there was no sweets, just market research. I am nodding now not hearing her, even if I did try and make out the words all I hear is, ‘Jeeeesuuus… Jesssuusses brrride…’ It doesn’t make sense. Finally I bite the bullet ‘So are you going to ask me any questions?’ I ask politely. ‘Yes,’ she said with a pause. ‘Do you believe in Jeeeesuuus?’ she asks. ‘I’m not sure,’ I say. ‘Do you believe you have a soul?’ she asks ‘Yes, of course,’ I say. ‘So who do you believe put it there?’ she asks. ‘I believe there is a God, but I’m not sure,’ I say. ‘Do you understand that Jesus has bride?’ she asked not affected by my obvious discomfort. I think about how to put this nicely. ‘Not really…’ I say. ‘Sorry it’s not for me.’ She looks at me blankly.  ‘So do you not want to have eternal liiiife?’ she asks me, deadpan. I pause for a second. Owning up and saying yes means she has me. ‘No…’ I say – an obvious lie. Come on, who doesn’t want eternal life – but what I also want is peace. What I really want is to get to the DART station and get the train home and read my paper, and then eat rice with soy sauce and that tuna steak in the fridge – raw. While watching that documentary called ‘Born a girl, now a boy’ or something, and then some mindless friends episodes and then go write my book, and fall asleep – a rich, untainted sleep, and wake up and live my life. Eternal life? I could take it or leave it right now. ‘Okay’ she said. I got up ‘Sorry’ I said, unsure to why I was apologising. ‘Bye’ and I smiled, and then ran. Dublin’s multicultural side, if nothing else, makes your walk home a bit more interesting and funny. And if that’s not a good thing, I don’t know what is…