Fellow research nerds, do you like participating in studies? Do you like making $10 an hour doing random tasks? Well, I do. Anything to help in the name of science and to earn a little spending money here and there. As I was walking into work about two weeks ago, I saw an ad for a perception of motion study. Make $10 an hour for 1-2 hours? I was sold. I set up the appointment after about a week to go during my lunch. Well the day came. I drove to campus, underestimating of much time this walk would take me and walked to the lab across campus at the medical center. To set up some imagery, I was wearing a yellow lowish cut dress with beading, hair down, make up done (Because I woke up late so I decided it’s fine to get presentable for the day). But how will you know what I look like? I’m just a blank canvas with a yellow dress to you. (Use your imagination dear reader). Anyways, I get to the study 15 minutes early (being the eager participant that I am, or having really bad perception of time). It’s three male nerds and me in a small cramped room. Their eyes lit up (or at least I like to think that their eyes lit up). They make their small talk about the weather and the lab as I fill out a demographic survey about my eye history, migraines, dizziness, and vertigo. I didn’t have any of those so I just mindlessly listened to the two guys (one stepped out to make more room) while I went through the survey and chimed in here and there. I will admit one of the research assistants was a cutie! He had dark hair, glasses, and flushed cheeks (ugh flushed cheeks, they kill me). He was also the one who was helping me through most of the study. Lets name him Chaz.
I finished up they survey and finally was ready to participate in the study. Mind you most of the studies I do are in front of a computer and I have to click on some stuff, well for this one, they gave me a helmet! What did I get myself into? How is perception of motion going to be measured with a helmet?! So we go into the side room that has a motion simulation chair (just like in amusement parks). I have to get into this chair, wearing my helmet, have the helmet be strapped in so my head doesn’t move, and then look at a screen with a whole bunch of rotating objects and say if my head was moving left or right. Easy enough right? Wrong. I was terrible. I got dizzy and nauseous from the first round of spinning stimuli and the chair moving and I was so bad that they had to stop in order to unplug the screen. So they tried a second thing where they left me in a pitch black, and I mean PITCH BLACK, room and had the chair move either left or right and depending on my feet position I would click left or right. Dear sweet Chaz talked me through all of it, making sure that I was okay and not bored and not asleep. About 40 minutes of this, (I’m in a pitch black room remember), I start getting pretty disoriented (is this what senses deprivation chambers are like?). THEN the test trial starts which added the element of the chair moving forward or backward started. I got 75% through, realizing I was fucking up, as Chaz comes in and tells me that he was going to stop the study. His line when he walked in:
You’re like me that you don’t know where you are in space and rely too heavily on your vision
Soul mates? I think so. I understood that I wasn’t doing well and really wanted to contribute to the dataset but let me tell you, I was really happy to leave that room. So I start filling out the paper work to get paid but I’m still feeling very disoriented. It’s weird to stand, I don’t know what I’m doing, I have to concentrate a lot harder to get a task done, and standing was almost impossible for a bit. I fill out the paper work and am about to leave when Chaz gets concerned, or “concerned”, and tells his fellow researchers that he’s going to take his lunch break and make sure I don’t pass out and get to work okay. Innocent enough right? Maybe, if I wasn’t 23 and not as experienced with people hitting on me, I would’ve thought it was innocent.
We get to the elevator to go down and I almost fall over. Casual. He starts walking me back to my work (which is on the other side of campus and a 15 minute walk, I thought at first he was just going to the main campus to get lunch and leave me halfway through). Alas, he started asking me what I studied in undergrad, he told me about his work, asked about my work, told me about how he tried the motion study out too and failed. Then, as we got halfway he starts telling me about his dating life. Please, I like to be at least 30 minutes into a walk before something like that comes up… He tells me how him and his ex girlfriend dated for two years and broke up after they moved in together… (Don’t move in together). I told him about my sister and her future plans of moving in with her boyfriend (this isn’t for here, we’ll fight about this later sis.. .Do you even read my blog?!). Then he told me how he recently dated someone who was 27 and quote: “I usually date older girls.” Was this a pass at me? I’m not that old am I? I know 23 is way past it’s prime but c’mon. Since when have I become an “older girl” (I’m going to write a cougar post at some point. So pretty recently friends.) By this point we got back to the building I work in and we shook hands good-bye (maybe I should be less formal). I was half expecting him to ask me out on a date! But he left. Which is understandable because there must be an unspeakable code that you can’t ask participants out on a date! Who knows. Maybe he was shy. At least I thought, I went into work, was going about my day when I got an e-mail from Chaz. He wanted to check in that I was feeling better. I knew at that point that I’m sure he did want to ask me out on a date (or maybe he’s just that caring and I’m reading too into it). I replied with a quick e-mail back about how I was feeling better and thanking him for checking in. He replied with of course. WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN! I almost half thought to e-mail him back and ask him out for coffee. Instead I relived every shitty guy I’ve been with the past 2-3 years and decided that the risks of dating outweigh the benefits. Hey, at least I got $10 to spend on coffee for myself.