it was a miserable rainy day today. the one day to stay home, i ended up going into boston in the evening to attend a focus group. i would've cancelled if it weren't for the fact that i'd make $100 for 90 minutes of focus grouping. i can't remember the last time i took the subway into boston. the last time i rode the MBTA was in early november when john and i took the train to alewife. but my last ride into boston? i honestly can't remember (so it must've been a long time ago). the few times i have gone into boston were all via bicycle.
the focus group was at rowes wharf, beginng at 7:00. there was an earlier group at 5:00. there was some kind of mix-up and the person running the group thought the start time was 7:30. there was originally supposed to be 10 people but one person left (he seemed like a jerk anyway, i'm glad he wasn't patient). while waiting for the other group to finish, i even had time to do some brainstorming and figure out an XML solution to my code for client E.
from the waiting room we went into a large conference room. one side of the room was a two-way mirror (just like in the movies!), and our host informed us we were being watched and this whole session was being videotaped.
i've been in at least one other focus group before, to test a website redesign: it was just me and a pair of observers, and we did it on the computer talking over the phone. that's what i thought i was signing up to tonight but turns out it was just a roundtable where we basically gave our opinions. the topic? massachusetts health insurance website. everyone there was an independent worker (and one medical student), so we all pay health insurance out of pocket instead of through a company. it was a real cross-section, including a project manager, a housewife, a lawyer, and a product developer (whatever that is).
because we started late, the group only ran an hour (to 8:30). that was a good thing because i didn't have dinner and was feeling hungry. some participants didn't say much, while others talked all the time. i was somewhere in the middle, giving my 2¢ about the health insurance business. at one point the shadows behind the glass mirror had someone pass a note to our moderator, maybe to steer the conversation in a diferent direction. afterwards we all signed a W-9 form and was handed our checks. easiest $100 i ever made!
the rain had picked up by then, and so did the wind (supposedly 45mph). crossing through the dark and desolate financial district towards downtown crossing, my umbrella nearly collapsed from the strong winds. i took the subway and got off in harvard square. i got a lamb schwarma dinner plate from my favorite halel diner (formerly my favorite greek diner) before coming home. i was pretty wretched, soaked from the rain, and took a quick hot shower before eating dinner.