JamesBond007.5

Does Mystery Shopping Own You?

This is a rhetorical question of sorts. The genesis of it occurred shortly before the polls were closing on Election Day. I had decided to break my routine of going to the coffee shop and getting online to search for shopping assignments and photography jobs. I instead volunteered as a poll watcher for the party of my choice at my voting precinct. [For the record, I never vote straight party, I always vote for the individual and almost always find myself voting for a handful of candidates from the other party.] After I voted, I presented my credentials to the poll manager and sat down for a rather uneventful day. Although I didn’t know it at the time, it was what I needed; a day for my mental health.

At about 6PM, a friend who I hadn’t seen since high school some 36 years ago, stopped by to vote. John owns a wrecker service and, after he voted, I asked him how things were going. He said, “Sometimes I feel like I own the wrecker and other times I feel the wrecker owns me.” We chatted some more an caught up with each others lives, and said our goodbyes…yet what he first said to me stayed in my mind.

When you own a business, you never really have any time off. You may physically decide that you won’t do any shops today or something similar, but running the business stays in your mind. It could be trying to decide where you’d like to go on a route, or something as mundane as realizing you are down to two reams of printer paper, so it’s time to start looking for a paper sale. The point is your mind is always on the business, even if your body isn’t.

A while back in Mystery Shop Forum, RSGlenn started a thread, How Does Your Shopping Day Begin and End. I suspect many of us have similar days. Is it all bad? Not really, but there is some truth to the old saying, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

During slow times at the polls, I’d chat with the poll workers. When asked what I did for a living, I replied, “Freelance writer and photographer.” I let mystery shopping and it’s many pseudonyms slip from my mind. And you want to know something…it felt good. It felt mighty good. Yesterday was more than a day off from shopping. It was a day away from shopping. I didn’t turn my laptop on at all. I basically let myself forget that I was James Bond, Mystery Shopper and let myself just be James Bond, period.

Today I’m back at my usual table in the coffee shop, laptop and a can of Arizona Sweet Tea on the table. And I’m feeling a lot better. I have a fresh outlook on mystery shopping. Not like I had when I was a novice, but it is still fresh. And having this fresh outlook doesn’t mean that I’m ready to start taking jobs that are on my “10-foot pole” list, but it does mean that I’m looking at jobs that I’d grown accustomed to just automatically deleting the email, and I’m looking at them in a new light. Election day was a much needed day, a day completely away from the world of mystery shopping; a day where I could pause, reflect, and recharge my batteries; a day for my mental health.

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