Shaping American Consumerism

My work whiteboard is officially empty.

If you are looking for a way to really excite your blog readers, start off with a blank picture. But seriously, the empty whiteboard does have some significance for me. It means I’m officially sliding toward retirement. My small import/export medical business has had a good 15 year run, but it is grinding to a halt. I knew the end was coming due to circumstances beyond my control. And now it’s here … about 20 months too early before I start taking retirement benefits.

In the meantime, I’m doing some work as a product tester. Yes, people pay me for my opinion. This is incredible to me because I am used to my family not even wanting me to express my opinion.

Just recently, I have worked with some very large to small little start-up companies who have paid me to express my opinions on such fascinating products as:

  • Paper towels. They happened to be the exact brand we currently use except with slight, almost imperceptible, differences. Not only did I complete a written report online, but then I did a 45 minute video interview … about paper towels! Try talking for 5 minutes about paper towels. It’s hard work. What can you really say beyond you want them to pick up spills, clean stuff, and not fall apart?
  • Scented garbage bags. I thought their scent was as bad as the smell of our garbage.
  • Disposable razors. I am not sure how I was selected for this one. I clearly stated in the screening survey that I shave with an electric razor. I don’t know how you blade users do it. These sample razors pulled my beard and cut my chin. And how the heck am I supposed to shave the concave part of my cute dimple? Then you throw them away and create more plastic waste. I’m not judging, but it’s not for me.
  • Plug-in room deodorizers. Once again, this is a product I would never purchase. I’m not quite sure why I was chosen for the product test. But I plugged in, sniffed, reported, and collected my paycheck.
  • Oral rinse. The first version felt like it was eating away the inside of my mouth and tongue, but I rather like the second option. I may never brush my teeth again. Wait, what’s that? I still have to brush?
  • Toothpaste packaging. That’s right, not the toothpaste itself, but the boxes it is packaged in. I did this one in Chicago at a prestigious Michigan Avenue advertising agency. Well, maybe not that prestigious. I thought that besides our monetary payment it would be nice if they allowed us to take home a boxed tube of toothpaste. I asked, and we could … for anywhere from $3 to $7 per tube. Cheap bastards.
  • A prototype website for an online prescription drug service. Yawn, right? Wrong. It was pretty interesting. You know those ecommerce websites where things just don’t look or work too well? I got to fix this website’s mistakes before they took it live. It was probably the most interesting product test I’ve done this year, and I received an excellent rating for my participation. In recognition of my excellence, I stuck a gold star on my forehead and walked around my house for a while.
  • A phone app that is for something, but I’m not exactly sure what. I did a videoconference with the app designer in Israel, and we had a lovely chat, but I’m not sure about what.
  • Sump pump alarms that will warn you via your phone wherever you are when the water gets too high in your sump hole. I haven’t installed them yet, but in the introductory session, I learned of a fatal product flaw. Normally, sump pump failure issues occur when power is lost. These sump pump alarms work on a home’s wi-fi network … which won’t be operating if the power goes out. Oops.
  • Coming up, I’m scheduled for an in-person test for an at-home STI test. That sounds confusing. The product is an at-home test to detect a sexually transmitted infection. But I have to travel to a test location where they will watch whether I am manually dexterous enough to handle the small parts of the STI test kit. And no, I do not have to have an STI to do the test, although I am willing to discuss that option for the right compensation.

Next time you are at a store shopping for paper towels, toothpaste, STI tests (behave!), or sump pump alarms that don’t work well, you can feel confident that the product is the best it can be, because I had a hand in making it that way. And yes, I washed my hands first. I guess you can call me a behind-the-scenes influencer or just Mr. Behind for short.


3 thoughts on “Shaping American Consumerism

  1. Nice
    are eager to hear my thoughts on their products. It’s a fantastic feeling to know that my input is valued and that I can still make a meaningful contribution to the business world. I admire the author for embracing this new chapter in their life and finding new opportunities to explore. This article serves as a reminder that retirement doesn’t have to mean the end of your career, but rather a chance to explore new opportunities and passions.
    regards Wayne

    Liked by 1 person

  2. hey fellow bloggers
    are eager to hear my thoughts on their products. I find it incredibly fulfilling to be able to use my expertise and experience to help others succeed. While retirement may be looming, I am excited to have this new opportunity to continue working and making a difference. Congratulations on a successful 15-year run and best of luck in your future endeavors as a product tester!
    thanks for reading – Wayne Kucia

    Liked by 1 person

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