Why is our society obsessed with surveys

NIAGARA, Wis. — For those of you who have watched “60 Minutes” over the years, Andy Rooney needs no introduction. For those who were not regular viewers of this Sunday evening program on CBS, you really missed learning valuable life lessons from a very lovable curmudgeon. He was quite a character. He lived a very long life and learned much about human nature from his many years on this earth.

He loved his job, and it showed. And he also believed that attaining a certain age gave him an undeniable right to speak his mind on a variety of subjects. He was an excellent journalist and had a keen sense of observation that found a deeper meaning in what most of us hardly noticed. Consequently, we can learn a lot from Andy Rooney, and he never minced words when it came time to educate us on his point of view.

So, in the spirit of Andy Rooney, but certainly not on par with his abilities, I am going to comment on a pet peeve of mine that has emerged since I have attained the age at which I can speak my mind. Is it just me, or have any of you noticed our society’s obsession with surveys?

I find that quite often when I purchase an item at any given store — most recently a simple bag of white rock at Home Depot — the cash register receipt contains a printed reminder to take a survey and gives me a web site at which to do it. This time there was also a pleasant reminder from the clerk to do the same, “Take a minute to take our survey!” she chirped as we left the store. To comment on what… the quality of rock? the speed of check-out? the service received? the reasonable price? I mean, it was a simple “find-a-bag-of-rock-and-buy-it” type of experience.

Anytime I make a purchase on Amazon, I get an email to take their survey. I am asked to rate the “buying experience” along with my impressions of the product and the speed at which it was delivered to my doorstep. I used to do this, sharing my impressions of the product with potential future buyers… until something Amazon really needed to know was not in their realm of interest. I had ordered a purse that was quite literally on a slow boat from China. After a full month had passed, I thought Amazon should know this. I went online to take their survey, and was told that it was not something they had control over and I should contact the supplier. In China — really? I never did receive the purse, and I have not completed an Amazon survey since. If I were Amazon, I would want to know the customer’s experience with one of my suppliers. Would that not affect which companies I would choose as business associates? If not, it should.

This past New Year’s Eve, my husband and I travelled to Marquette with another couple to celebrate the last day of 2018 in style at a well-known hotel that had its own dining room on site. We had stayed at this hotel before, had enjoyed it immensely, and were looking forward to the dining experience, which promised to be something special. We had a lovely time until we entered the dining room on time for our 7:30 reservations, which was hardly considered a late dinner on NY Eve.

The dining experience fell far short of our expectations for many reasons. It was so over-booked and over-crowded that the wait staff could barely reach our table. Consequently, it was so noisy that we could barely make our wishes known to our waitress — and forget table talk. We could barely hear each other as we sat like sardines in a can at our table. They were already out of over half of their holiday specials. When I ordered my second choice, requesting a minor substitution of wild rice risotto instead of polenta, I was told “they were unable to do substitutions” on this particular evening. Really? You cannot dip the spoon in the kettle of risotto instead of the kettle of polenta? So, I settled for polenta. Sadly, the steak was completely tasteless — nicely charred but completely void of any flavor whatsoever — but the polenta was just as unappetizing as I remembered it to be. The salad dressing was good, and the dessert was good. The next morning at breakfast the eggs benedict were tasteless — no trace of lemon or salt appeared anywhere in that hollandaise sauce. We left extremely disappointed with both meals and vowed to never go to their restaurant again.

Lo and behold, a survey soon appeared in my email from the hotel. Honestly, the only item of interest to management was the front desk. They asked me to rate the check-in and check-out experience. Oddly enough, those were the only experiences that had been without reproach. I did take advantage of the comment box to give them all of the information they needed to know — but neglected to ask — about their chef and our overall dining experience.

I have lost track of the number of surveys I have received in the mail — pages and pages of multiple-choice little circles I am asked to fill in with a pencil. I rarely complete these any longer because, quite frankly, I am not willing to spend my time on surveys that do not seem to be asking the right questions. Most seem to be inept attempts to learn if their customers are satisfied with a host of superficial things — items that management, with a severe disconnect to the real customer, has deemed important.

The very indirect nature of any type of survey seems to me to be indicative of the entire problem… a general lack of meaningful customer service due to the loss of interpersonal communication skills. Things like eye contact, a smile, a spontaneous question or chatty conversation, and the ability to notice the customers’ needs before they ask are some of the many skills that seem to have fallen by the wayside. I blame the advent of the high-tech communication options now available behind which people can hide and never really connect with anyone or anything around them. There is no survey — no matter how many questions and little circles it contains, internet based or paper — that can take the place of a sincere, human exchange. Without that sincere interest in, and connection with, the customer, businesses will never get a survey to fix their problems because they will never be asking the right questions. And when businesses truly engage their customers, they will not need a survey to tell them whether or not the right things are being done. The smiles on their customers’ faces, the twinkle in their eyes, and the tone of their voices will tell them all they need to know.

Here is a sampling of Andy Rooney observations:

“Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.”

“Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.”

“Sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.”

“Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.”

“Being kind is more important than being right.”

“I didn’t get old on purpose, it just happened. If you’re lucky, it could happen to you.”

“The best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.”

“Everyone you meet deserves to be greeted with a smile.”

“Most of the people in the world are good and decent if you give them a chance to be.”

“It’s paradoxical, that the idea of living a long life appeals to everyone, but the idea of getting old doesn’t appeal to anyone.”

“Don’t keep saying, “I don’t know where the time goes.” It goes the same place it’s always gone and no one has ever known where that is.”

“Small daily happenings make life spectacular… start enjoying the small things in life!”

For more — and there are many, many more — do an internet search for Andy Rooney Quotations and enjoy.

Do you have a pet peeve you would like to share? Send them to me at smkillian1969@gmail.com. After all, if you are reading this column, you are likely at that age where you have both the right to complain and the insight on how to fix the problem. Dare to be a curmudgeon!






Scenes and sounds, 11:30 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Sunday: Ring toss, 1 p.m.; dunking donuts, 2 p.m.; church, 2:15 p.m.

Monday: Room visits, 10 a.m.; brouhaha, 11 a.m.; library cart, 1:30 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; ice cream social, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Crafts, 10:30 a.m.; resident council, 11 a.m.; reminisce, 1:15 p.m.; Kentucky Derby, 2 p.m.; evening visitor, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Room visits, 10 a.m.; rosary, 10:30 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; movie and popcorn, 3 p.m.

Thursday: Reading buddy,11 a.m.; bible study, 1:30 p.m.; pokereno, 2:30 p.m.; laundry day, 3:30 p.m.; Lawrence Welk, 5 p.m.

Friday: What’s cooking, 11 a.m.; bunko, 1:15 p.m..; sing along, 2:30 p.m.; happy hour, 3 p.m.

Saturday: Meet and greet, 10:30 a.m.; daily newspaper, 11 a.m.; oldies but goodies, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.

Iron County 

Medical Facility

Crystal Falls

Sunday: One-to-one church visitors, 8:30 to 11 a.m.; room visits, 9 to 11 a.m.; volleyball, 10 a.m.; bingorama, 2 p.m..; Church of Christ, 3 p.m.

Monday: Memory books, 9 to 10:30 a.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.

Tuesday: CF library 9:30 a.m.; book club, 10 a.m.; Mass, 10 a.m.; shopping trip, noon; wildlife film, 1:30 p.m.; current events, 2 p.m.; western movie, 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Coffee social/volleyball, 10 a.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; garden club, 2 p.m.; night bingo, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Puzzler, 9:30 a.m.; bowling, 10 a.m..; travel film, 1:30 p.m.; prayer with Doris, 2 p.m.; happy hour, 2:30 p.m.

Friday: Crafts, 9 to 10:30 a.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; room visits 1 p.m.; monthly birthday party/live music and cake, 2 p.m.; comedy movie, 6 p.m.

Saturday: Room to room bingo/high rollers, 10 a.m.; geri-gym, 11 a.m.; intergenerational social hour, 2 p.m.



Wet your whistle: 9:30 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Exercise: 10 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Movie: 10:45 a.m. daily, and 3:15 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Popcorn Day: every Friday

Sunday: Just jokes, 10:15 a.m.; company’s coming room visits, 1:30 p.m.; Protestant church, 3 p.m.

Monday: Memorial Day fun facts, 10 am.; big bucks bingo, 2 p.m.

Tuesday: Trivia, 10:15 a.m.; “Wheel of Fortune,” 2 p.m.; movie and manicure, 5:45 p.m.

Wednesday: Remembering when, 10:15 a.m.; crafts, 2 p.m.; flip five, 5:45 p.m.

Thursday: Crosswords, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; magic moments, 5:45 p.m.

Friday: ABC game, 10:15 a.m.; pokeno, 2 p.m.

Saturday: Current events, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.

Maryhill Manor

Niagara, Wis.

Rosary, 8:30 a.m. Sunday through Friday.

Sunday: Catholic Mass, 9 a.m.; “Family Feud,” 10:15 a.m.; music bingo, 1:30 p.m.; Protestant service, 2:30 p.m.

Monday: Bingo, 10:15 a.m.; Memorial Day reminiscing, 2 p.m.

Tuesday: Current events, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; Yahtzee, 6:15 p.m.

Wednesday: Knock-knock jokes, 10:15 a.m.: garden planting, 2 p.m.; chaplet of divine mercy, 3 p.m.; help your neighbor, 6:15 p.m.

Thursday: Catholic Mass, 9 a.m. Scattegories, 10:15 a.m.; religious bingo, 2 p.m.; whammo, 6:15 p.m.

Friday: Ball toss, 10:15 a.m.; short stories, 10:30 a.m.; happy hour with Ray and Mindy., 2 p.m.

Saturday: Baking, 10:15 a.m.; pamper and polish, 2 p.m.; bingo, 5:45 p.m.

Victorian Pines

Iron Mountain

Juice time, 10 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Exercise, 11 a.m. Monday through Friday.

Shopping days: 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, must sign up.

Sunday: Bible study, 1:30 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Monday: Bingo, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Craft class, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Wednesday: Bingo, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m. 

Thursday: Rosary, 3 p.m.

Friday: Bingo, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Saturday: Movie and popcorn, 2 p.m.

Florence Health Services

Florence, Wis.

Morning news, 6 a.m. daily.

Beauty shop open on Tuesday and Thursday.

Sunday: Bingo 10 a.m.; blueberry pie party, 2 p.m.; reading, 6 p.m.

Monday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; spring time jingo, 2 p.m.; room visits, 3:30 p.m.

Tuesday: Pastor Doug, 10 a.m.; chair exercise, 2 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 3 p.m.

Wednesday: Flippo, 10 a.m.; national biscuit day party, 2 p.m.; social hour, 3 p.m.; trivia, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Pastor Jason, 10 a.m.; manicures, 2 p.m.; spring garden, 3 p.m.; reminisce, 6 p.m.

Friday: Catholic Mass, 10 a.m.; macaroon party, 2 p.m.; coffee social, 3 p.m.

Saturday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; board games, 2 p.m.; comedy hour, 6 p.m.

Pinecrest Medical

Care Facility


Sunday: Grace church, 10:15 a.m.; trivia, 10:30 a.m.; Lutheran service, 2 p.m.; reminiscing, 3:30 p.m.

Monday: Life connections, 9:45 a.m.; sensory, 10 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 p.m.; song service, 1:30 p.m.; rosary 2:30 p.m.; sensory, 3:30 p.m.; Yahtzee, 6 p.m.

Tuesday: Life stories, 10:30 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 p.m.; bingo, 1:45 p.m.; reminiscing, 3:30 p.m.; room visits, 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Casino outing, 10:15 a.m.; Cards, 10:30 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 p.m.; wine and cheese, 2 p.m.; trivia, 3:30 p.m.

Thursday: “Say Yes to the Dress,” 10:30 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 p.m.; bingo, 1:45 p.m.; cards, 3:30 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 6 p.m.

Friday: Catholic Mass, 10:30 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 a.m.; “Say Yes to the Dress,” 2 p.m.; current events, 3:30 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 6 p.m.


Note: All centers ask for 24-hour advanced reservations for lunch. If you have meals delivered and will not be home, notify the Center.

Alpha-Mastodon Center


Meal at noon every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

Amasa Center


Open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Lunch at noon.

Bingo on Tuesdays.

Free meal drawing on Thursdays.

Breen Center


Meals Monday through Friday.

Pasty sale every third Saturday of the month — except on holidays.  

Cards and games available 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 2 p.m. 

Hostess on duty Monday through Friday.   

Treats and coffee, 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Center retail store is open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday; volunteers and donations are welcome.

Birthdays acknowledged every day.

Evening meals are on the first and third Thursday of the month. Salad bar opens at 4 p.m., with dinner at 5 p.m. Donations are $4 for those 60 and older and $5 for 60 and younger.

Crystal Falls Center

Head cook: Lucy Korhonen


Suggested meal donations: $5 older than 60; $6 younger than 60; $1 extra for take-out.

Call center by 1 p.m. with name and number of people to reserve meals.

Open: Monday through Wednesday 4:30 p.m., soup and salad bar and 5 p.m., dinner.

Monday: Closed for Memorial Day.

Tuesday: Soup, salad, barbecue chicken, potato salad, baked beans, and homemade dessert.

Wednesday: Soup, salad, grilled pork chop, baked potato, vegetables, and homemade dessert.

Mondays: Basket weaving after dinner — all are welcome for dinner and/or class. Beginners can make their first basket with materials provided.

Crystal Lake Center


The center is closed on weekends.

Monday: Woodcarvers, 10 a.m.; Mahjong in dining hall, noon; Les Artistes Art Club, noon; Bridge Club, 12:15 p.m.

Tuesday and Thursday: Pinochle, 12:30 p.m.

Thursdays: Two-person team cribbage from 12:30 to 3:30 pm.

Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: Billiards, 9:30 a.m.

Wednesday: Spinning Spools Quilters Guild, 1 p.m., crafters, scrapbookers and others also welcome; knitting and crocheting class, 1 to 3 p.m.

Friday: Smear, 12:30 p.m.

Last Saturday of the month: Music jam starting at 1 p.m. Admission is free. 

Dances take place from 7 to 10 p.m. on the second and fourth Fridays of the month. Admission is $6; coffee is free. 

The Photo Club meets 1 to 3 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month.  

The kitchen is currently closed due to plumbing issues, and meals are being served at the Breen Center. Christine McMahon has information for all meals and can be reached at 906-774-2256, ext. 235. For transportation, call Buzzin’ Around Town at 906-282-0492. Rides are $3 for age 60 and older, and $3.50 for younger than 60. 

Transportation is available from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

Felch Center


Meals served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Wednesday.

Bingo after lunch on the first and third Wednesday of each month.

A congregate jigsaw puzzle is done daily.

Aging and Disability Resource Center of Florence County, Wis.


Director: Tiffany White

Suggested donation for seniors older than 60 is $4 per meal. Residents younger than 60 must pay $7. Reservations and cancellations needed 48-hours in advance.

The ADRC can assist area seniors and those with disabilities with transportation Monday through Friday. Transportation reservation should be made with meal reservation.

Fence Center/Town Hall


Meal at noon Wednesdays only. Reservations are requested. Cribbage and cards are available.

Florence Community Center/Town Hall


Home-delivered meals are available as always. Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. at the center on Friday only. 

The meal site is temporarily closed Monday through Thursday due to a staffing shortage. 

Tipler Town Hall


Serving lunch at noon on the second Thursday of the month.

Hillcrest Senior Dining Center, Aurora


Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Thursday. Transportation arrangements can be made to and from the meal site.

Hermansville Center

Coordinator: Pam Haluska


Meal is at noon Monday through Friday. Suggested donation is $3 for age 60 and older and $7 for those younger than 60. Morning coffee is available daily.

Fifteen games of “fun bingo” are played each Tuesday and Friday, along with a 50-50 drawing.

Tuesday: Bingo, 12:45 p.m.

Wednesday: Cards played in the afternoon. Call ahead to see if a game will be going on.

Friday: Bingo, 12:45 p.m.

Monday through Friday: Walking in the gym, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. A treadmill also is available.

Enjoy friendly interaction with other crafters.

Iron River Center


Meals served 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; a $4 donation is encouraged from those 60 and older, and a $5 payment is required from those younger than 60. Thursday meal, 3:30 p.m. soup, 4 p.m. salad bar, with dinner at 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Home-delivered meals are available — call 906-774-2256 and speak to Christine Tramontine at ext. 235 or Stephen at ext. 230.

Menu for the week of May 27 follows:

Monday: Closed for Memorial Day.

Tuesday: Chili, tossed salad, fruit and milk.

Wednesday: Parmesan chicken, noodles, cauliflower, garlic bread, dessert and milk.

Thursday: Fish, baby red potatoes, peas and carrots, dessert and milk.

Niagara Northwoods Senior Cafe and Center

Meal site manager: Corrie Maule, 715-251-1603

Senior center director: Jill Anderson, 715-251- 4154

Noon meals served Monday through Thursday. Transportation is available to the meal site for those living in the Niagara, Wis., area. We welcome any senior groups who would like to use the meal site as a meeting place — join us for lunch and then stay for a meeting or social time. Wii games, cards, puzzles and board games are available to play. 

Other activities are in the works — suggestions are always welcome. 

Those who have not been at the meal site/senior center are invited to give it a try. Those who haven’t been here in a while are encouraged to come back.

Norway Center

Director: Susie Slining


Monday through Thursday: Meals served at noon, with salad bar. Soup also is available at 11 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Milk, juice, bread, fruit, tea and coffee served daily. Meal donation is $5. Reservation for the meal should be made in advance.

Two special-themed meals take place each month on Tuesday, with bingo, prizes and a 50-50 drawing.

Two evening meals offered at 5 p.m. on the first Monday and third Wednesday of the month, with bingo, prizes and a 50-50.

Menu for the week of May 27:

Monday: Closed for Memorial Day holiday

Tuesday: Breakfast bake with sausage, hash browns, soup and salad bar, fruit juice, and dessert.

Wednesday: Liver or burger and onions, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, salad bar, fruit juice, and dessert.

Thursday: Pork chops, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, soup and salad bar, fruit, juice, and dessert.

If Norway-Vulcan area schools are closed due to bad weather days, so is the senior center. If the schools are on a two-hour delay, the center remains open.  

Cards are played daily after the noon meal.

Craft and exercise classes: Mondays and Thursdays.

Ceramic and art classes: Wednesdays.

Puzzles always in the works.

A senior coloring class meets daily. All are welcome. Some materials will be provided.

Telephone reassurance is available for any senior who doesn’t get out much and would like a friendly daily phone check to see that all is well.

Note: File of Life packets available at the center.

Sagola Center


Meals: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 11:45 a.m. Cards: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Commodities every other month and quarterly commodities are every three months. A puzzle table is available to enjoy. Volunteers are always welcome.