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Voluntary Survey

Posted Nov 29 2010 12:00am

I passed a sign on the road.

Voluntary Survey, it read. I'd heard about those Volunteer Surveys.

My son, whose career path is solidly on the Criminal Justice/Police Officer Path, has done multiple ride alongs with the officers in various precincts in our fair city. He once told me, "If you see a sign that says Voluntary Survey, take it. They pay you cash."

My inner tightwad is immediately interested when you say the word Cash.

I saw the sign on my way home from church. I'd passed similar signs in other locations a few times before, but was always in too big of a hurry to stop. This time was different. I was only five minutes from my house and so after dropping the kids off, I circled back.

No. I am not taking my kids with me to do a survey with the po-po. Voluntary or not. They might have me committed.

So I pulled up and an officer came over to explain the details to me. The city was awarded a grant to investigate the causes of automotive crashes. For every car that is involved in a crash, the survey team is allowed to survey two cars. So, the crash at this intersection last week of two vehicles finalized a survey of four. I was number three.

The officer further explained that the team wanted to find out about me as a driver, and to see how different things that I do as a driver may or may not have affected the outcome of the crash. The survey was at the same time - roughly - as the original crash. Sounds like no biggie to me, and the officer explained that I could earn up to $65.

There's not much I won't do for $65 cash. (Well, yes, there is THAT, and THAT as well. Trust YOU to come up with THOSE. Geesh. My PARENTS and KIDS read here.)

I never had to give my name, and at no time would they be able to arrest me based upon my answers. (Whew! Just kidding, Mom!) Soon, the official came over and we began.

  • How long have you been driving?
  • How old were you when you began driving?
  • How old were you when you had your first drink?
  • How much do you drink on a daily basis?
  • Have you ever drank so much that you passed out?
  • Have you ever had more than five drinks in one day?

And it went on and on. For the first part, there was no compensation. Then we got to the breath and spit, where I did my first ever breathalyzer (go me!) and answered two pages of questions on my drug use - or lack thereof - while holding a cotton paddle under my tongue. A nasty, vile tasting paddle, and questions like:

  • Have you taken any benadryl recently?
  • Have you taken any prescription drugs in the past 24/36/48/72 hours?
  • Have you used marijuana in the past day/month/2 months/6 months/2 years?
  • Same as above for cocaine
  • And PCP
  • And Esctasy
  • And heroin
  • Or Fen-Phen

I laughed and asked, "Do you ever get anyone who answers these honestly with postives?" and the investigator said, "All the time."


That part netted me a cool $15. Then she went on to the third segment where I had the amazing ability to earn a on the spot $50 money order. Just one catch - I'd have to let a different tech draw a tube of blood. And it was about, oh, 36 degrees and SUPER windy, and I'd have to stand there for the entire time. And I don't donate blood because I'm a difficult stick, and I have a tendency to faint, plus my hemoglobin was a 7.2 or so last month (because, hello, having a period for TWO months without stop will do that do you...)

But I said yes. After I asked what they'd do with the blood.

They apparently use it to screen to see if your answers match up with the results, and then they destroy it. I read the paper she handed me, which said that they'd take my drivers license number, but not my name or address, in order to pull my driving record for accidents/tickets/violations. It said that even if they DID find something illicit, they weren't allowed to do anything.

The tech came, she did one of the better sticks of my life, although the most difficult part was standing there while the wind caused the needle to draft and dodge all around my arm. One money order exchanged hands, and I was on my way.

32 minutes, $65. You'd better believe that the NEXT time I see a Voluntary Survey, I'll be a Voluntary Volunteer.

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