Here at Quarry HQ, we’ve got it good. Our office is in a converted mill on the banks of the Conestogo River in the hamlet of St. Jacobs, Ontario.
Our space features lots of meeting rooms and lounges (most of which face the river with floor-to-ceiling windows), showers, a locker area, a rooftop patio, and a dining room that rivals — in style, at least — most restaurants in the Region of Waterloo.
It’s also located in the Region’s Old Order Mennonite community. Old Order Mennonites, like the Amish, forego most modern conveniences — electricity, automobiles, and the other things we rely on to get us through the day. As rural people, their way of life has changed little over the last few centuries.
One sunny Wednesday afternoon, while three of us Q folk gathered in one of the lounges to huddle on a conference call, a Mennonite family — father, mother, one small boy and two smaller girls — appeared at the window. Still dressed in church clothes from the noon service and carrying rods-and-reels, they settled in on the riverbank for some fishing.
As mother and father cast their lines, the boy moved closer to the window, turned around, and stared at us.
No pretense. No guile. Just open curiosity. He was no older than five.
Imagine how strange we must’ve appeared to him: three grownups sitting around a coffee table, not looking at each other, occasionally nodding or speaking to the filtered air around us, checking muted BlackBerrys. A mimed performance of twenty-first century, “civilized” work.
It hit me then, how all the tools we have at our disposal — tools that measure demographics, psychographics, attitudes, exposures, recall, click-throughs, conversions, ARPU, BDI, MDI and whatnot — let us create a neat little theoretical microcosm, a tidy fishbowl of human experience.
How humbling it feels, then, when you find yourself suddenly aware of the fishbowl you’re living in. And you become conscious, even self-conscious (as I did), about how what we do, how we live, and our assumptions, are no more real or valid than someone else’s.
Which is why Quarry makes a point of sending people into the field (and when it comes to our agricultural clients, we literally do go into fields) to watch how our customers live. Not just what they buy, or how they buy it and why. But the total experience that wraps itself around and drives those decisions. Not the metrics, but all the other moments in between the moments we deem “important.”
And the boy? As father to a child no older than him, I turned to our observer, gave him a “hey there, kiddo” smile and a wave.
He didn’t blink.