SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

This Will Only Take A Minute!
By Dave Kiffer


August 21, 2006

Ketchikan, Alaska - We all like to be thought of as important.

That's why it is so hard to turn down a chance to be "surveyed".

We like to believe "our opinions matter" and that's just what the surveyors tell us.

In the last five months, I have been phone surveyed five different times. It's like jury duty, they say you are randomly selected but - truth is - once you answer a survey or show up for jury duty - you seem to find yourself being "selected" again and again.

For example, I went years without being called for jury duty and then I was called for four straight years. Random coincidence? I think not. But as usual, I digress.

jpg surveys

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Artist Jeff Parker, Florida Today
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.

So, for the most part, phone surveys are not really a problem for me. I'm always willing to give an opinion, although it does seem like they always call around face stuffing time and "this will only take a couple of minutes" usually means 10 minutes at the least.

I like to try to figure out the "slant" by how the questions are asked. Every survey has a slant. You just have to suss it out by how the questions are phrased..

I was surveyed twice earlier this year on the up coming governor's race and it was pretty clear by the questions that one survey was being done on behalf of the sitting governor and one was being done on behalf someone wanting to replace him

For example one survey question centered around how "important" it was for the state to have "consistent" leadership. (one to five, with one being very important and five being not important at all!)

A question from the other survey listed a selection of things that were "wrong" in the state today and how "important" I thought it was to "improve" things.

You get the idea.

I tried to answer the questions as clearly as possible but frequently they wanted a yes or no answer on an issue that was not so clear.

The "slant" of both surveys also indicated that no matter what I really thought on the issues, the results would be "spun" to produce the desired outcome.

Two other surveys were about the gas pipeline issue that has been leaking around our state government this spring.

One survey focused on the potential economic "benefits" that would accrue from the proposed pipeline deal. The gist of the survey was whether or not I was in favor of accruing those "benefits."

The second pipeline survey focused on the economic "loses" that would occur from the proposed deal. The gist of that survey was whether or not I was opposed to seeing those "losses" occur.

Well, duh.

Like a lot of people, I am strongly (one to five with five being high) in favor of "benefits" and strongly opposed (one to five with five being high) to "losses."

I hope that answered their questions.

The fifth survey was about, well, I'm not what it was about.

First of all the surveyor was obviously not "from around here."

"You are a resident of Ket-CHAK-it-can?"

"Well, sort of.

"And you have lived in Ket-CHAK-it-can for how long?"

"Most of my life."

"And would that be six months or less or six months or more?"


"More or less six months or more than six months."

"More than six months, so far."

"Fine. Thank you.. Now what is your opinion of the Gro-VINE-Ah access."

"You mean the bridge?"

"No, the access."

I thought for a minute.

"You mean the ferry?"

"The question just says access, sir"

I love it when people call me "sir." It makes me feel very important, kind of like a knight.

The only better thing is when they call me "Mr. Kiffer" and I look around to see if my father is standing nearby. Thank goodness I am a male of the species, because otherwise I'd want to deck the first yahoo that called me "ma'am" .

"Fine, just say that I am in favor of Gro-VINE-Ah access."

"Thank you."

Other questions followed, and additional names words were mispronounced (the Alask Marin Highway!) that I wanted to start laughing and hang up. But I stayed on the line because I was still trying to figure out who was "sponsoring" such a bozo survey.

It was clear the survey had something to do with economic development and quite possibly the visitor industry, but it was hard to come up with the exact "slant."

I never did figure it out.

Finally, the surveyor concluded.

"My supervisor would like to come on the line and confirm this survey," she said.


There was a pause.

"Hi, I just wanted to confirm that you are a resident of Ketchikan, Arkansas?"

You betcha.



Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Contact Dave at

Dave Kiffer ©2006

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