What’s the strangest thing you’d do for money?

Drink nine Dixie cups of lemon juice? I’ve done that. Listen to a lawnmower for eight minutes and then a guitar for three? Bet. Eat a granola bar and a bag of Sun Chips while waiting in silence, occasionally making uncomfortable eye contact with a researcher, feeling exceedingly self-conscious about your noisy chewing in a quiet, quiet air-conditioned room? Yup. Click on a digital clock hundreds of times, stop abruptly because you might’ve broken the mouse, but then continue after realizing it was just you being unable to read instructions? Been there.

Every other week or so, the Yale School of Management will offer paid studies, usually between $5-15, that investigate decisions, judgment, perception, and consumer habits. My friends and I will make the uphill trek to take them, stockpiling or hastily spending the day’s profits on whatever comes to mind first: late night GHeav runs, room decorations, Main Garden lo mein, Blue State coffee, the cover charge for Toad’s. I save up mine for vinyl records — the next on my list to collect is Travis Scott’s ASTROWORLD.

Photo Credit: Chuck Choi, YaleNews, “Upcoming events at the Yale School of Management.” 

The first time I went, I entered at the wrong level, got lost in a parking garage, walked in a circle four times, stubbed my toe, and almost opened an emergency exit. But I got $5 afterwards, so it was worth being betrayed by Google Maps!

I’m a regular attendee —which means the receptionists think “ah yes, it’s you, the one who didn’t how to open a hyperlink and almost spilled sour lemonade on a laptop, our favorite,” when I arrive. The School of Management studies are usually just a couple minutes long, comprised of walk in-walk out surveys and minigames that make benign inquiries about how likely I would be to a buy a product, or how effective an advertisement is. More than a few times, however, I’ll get ambushed by deep questions — the study will jump from asking me about creativity to how I cope with stress, how much I fear failure, or whether or not I think someone is objectively talented.

My small fortune that I’ve accrued from School of Management studies! As Cardi B once said, “I need the money!”

Aside from the questions’ occasional topic whiplash, my general clumsiness, and the fact that I’m almost 19 yet still can’t read directions, however, they’re fun. They’re easy. They’re a distraction that leaves me with a crisp bill. A way to explore a futuristic building that I’ve been intrigued by. They’re one small way to experience something ordinary, or ridiculous, or unusual. Something whose banality is mysterious, yet nonetheless strangely endearing.