I have the supposition that some people who read this column are interested in what I do for a living. I could easily be wrong in so supposing. Nevertheless, I offer the following.
I bid on jobs. The jobs consist of visiting a retail establishment and making some observations. Most likely, my employer (any of about 20 companies), will require a photo or several.
I "evaluate the customer experience" at most of the fuel stations in a five-state area, as well as at a number of retail establishments that don't sell fuel. All fly the flag of multi-state corporations.
I returned yesterday from a four-day 1700-mile circuit of SoDak and Nebraska entailing about 20 stops during which I made observations including presentation of the brand name and employee attention to me (the customer). The shopping companies, representing the brand names, paid me about $55 per stop. Out of that, I paid my lodging, food and fuel.
Each evening, I spent about 4 hours preparing the photos and reports and transmitting them via various motel wi-fi setups. Some of these required numerous re-transmits due to service interruptions. I have no idea whether the interruptions were attributable to the local wi-fi or to other bottlenecks. In almost all cases, I was able to complete, eventually, the transmission.
The people to whom I transmit the info are usually used to the problems and accommodate them in stride.
I could not make a living doing this. It is only by virtue of the fact that I am the spouse of a rare American, one who makes a living creating art, that I am able to do this. The miles I drive eat up a car like sulfuric acid, but it is better money than going to a stationary employment point every day.
Occasionally, I am rewarded with a few shops that the shopping companies couldn't fill at the end of the period, and for which they are willing to pay, say, $250 for an evaluation of the speed of delivery of a hamburger in Winner SD. It's a 500 mile round trip to Winner from where I live. I don't think it's a profitable venture to drive 500 miles for $250, at least not on a one-time venture, but I took the deal, because it beats a job.
I have a window on the Clinton/Bush/Obama economy (not that I think those guys have much influence on the economy), and my window has a narrow field of view. I have a nearly-unique position from which to observe, because my basic milk-stool is the support of an artist whose clientele seem to have survived the depression.
More news at 13 (2013).