Nicolas’ War Story: Do you want me to act?
Nicolas Nova, consultant and researcher at Near Future Laboratory encounters an unusual individual, entirely unrelated to his study.
I remember a study I’ve conducted last year that was set in a big shopping mall in France. We were there interviewing users of smartphones for an R&D project. The place was pretty standard and we decided to sit in a fast food joint called “Quick”, at the entrance of the mall (which means a lot of people were passing by). Given the focus of the project, we had to videotape the interviews and take pictures of the posture of the user. This means that the presence of cameras was hard to hide and that passers-by couldn’t avoid noticing them.
After four interviews, we started the fifth one, kind of tired after hours of discussions with informants. Right in the middle of this interview, my colleague and I saw a tall guy moving to us with urgent haste, putting his two hands on the table, and screaming the following line: “I’ve just been released from prison and I’m hungry! What are you guys up to? Are you in the video business? Do you want me to act? Or what?”
The size of the guy, his level of excitement, the face of our informant and the people around us made the event very odd as it stopped everything for a second or two. It’s this sort of situation in which you have to behave yourself and avoid pissing off the nervous intruder, take care of the informant naively stopped in her description and an audience frowning at us. He seemed so energetic, perhaps by his re-entering of public society, that he looked at the same time excited about a new opportunity AND being a thug about to rob us from our devices. The “or what?” was said with so much hatred in his voice that were a bit nervous ourselves.
We explained to the guy that we were interviewing someone, asking her about her perspective for a research project and that he could be a participant later on. We were of course hoping it would be the end of it, a sort of way to make him understand that this is not the moment to chat with us.
Of course, he didn’t seem convinced, or he simply didn’t get it because he told us: “Oh yes I’ve a friend in Marseille in the video industry, I know your stuff!” To which he added: “But why do you have so many telephones?” My colleague explained the project and that was the end of it. “Arf, I don’t get it, I don’t care, plus I’m hungry”… and he left as fast he arrived few minutes ago.
Nothing really bad here but it was just awkward for us, a sort of break into our interview day…which actually readjusted our energy because we then completed three more afterwards!