Thank You for Your Time

Timeline note We are just after "Checkpoint" in Season 5

The perky well-oiled voice had the stink of desperation. "Hello," it said. "May I speak with Mr. or Mrs. Giles?"

"That's Giles, soft G, and there is no Mrs. Who is this?"

"My name is Cindy, I am calling from Adver-Now Research and we're doing a short survey..."

"Not interested."

"Wait!" The voice went up a pitch. "We're calling a select group of businesses today to get their opinions on some products and services, we're not selling anything at all..."

"Miss, I'm quite..."

"Busy, yes. But it's a very select group of businesses, Mr. Giles. VERY select. Please, if I can just have a minute of your time, I can run though the qualifying questions..."

He sighed. "Fine. All right."

"Thank you so much. Okay, now, the information we have here states that you reside in California?"

"Yes."

"And your business is called The Magic Box?"

"Yes."

"And do you or any of your employees or associates have any magical powers of any kind?"

He paused. "Is this some kind of joke?"

"Well, I did tell you it's a VERY select group we're calling..."

He coughed. "Ah. I see. Um, what was the question?"

"Magical powers. You or any of your employees."

"Ummm..."

"This would include demon powers, powers gained through spells, gained through conduits to the powers that be, gained through slaying of creatures with powers that transfer, um, anything like that..."

He ticked off himself, Willow, Anya and Buffy on his fingers. "Four."

"Uh huh. And how many of those four would you say the powers are dark ones?"

"Well, all power is rooted in darkness, isn't it?"

"Okay, that's not one of the checkboxes here, so if you had to say how many were dark powers and how many were..."

"I really can't answer that."

"Okay, we can just go on to the next question here. I am going to read off a list of mythical and/or supernatural beings. If you could just indicate to me which of these you have seen or had experience with...um, vampires?"

"Yes."

"Okay, wonderful. How about werewolves? You see any werewolves?"

"Yes."

"Nymphs? Wood elves? Anything like that?"

"No."

"Fairies?"

"No."

"Slayers?"

"Yes, definitely. And they are not mythical."

"Okay. Um, hell-gods?"

"Possibly."

"Okay, I can only check or not check the box, so..."

"No."

"Okay. Um...manifestations of the First Evil?"

"Thanks heavens, no."

"Okay, wonderful. Now, I am going to name off some different classes of demon. If you could just indicate to me which of these you've seen or had experience with. Um, Chaos?"

"No."

"Gnarl?"

"No."

"Fyarl?"

He shuddered. "Definitely, yes."

"Fear demon?"

"Yes."

"Slime demon?"

"That's not the same as Chaos demon?"

"Look, we have these checkboxes..."

"Fine. No."

"Fire demon?"

"No."

"Any other kind of demon you want to mention?"

"No."

"Uh huh. Okay, now we have some words here that might be used to describe people involved in the battle between the ultimate forces of good and evil. If you could just indicate to me which one of these would best apply to you...so, would you say you are a person who causes evil, a person who destroys evil, a person who is a neutral observer in the ultimate battle between the..."

"Destroys evil."

"Okay, if I could just read you a few more choices, um, a person who is an intermediary for example an oracle, psychic or seer, or perhaps a person who..."

"I destroy evil. And I also act as a trainer and mentor to others who destroy evil."

"Great, wonderful. And how many hours per week would you say you spend on the evil-destroying? Would it be less than 5, more than 5 but less than 10...you can stop me when I get to the right one here. Would it be more than 10 but less than 20? More than 20 but less than 30? More than 30 but less than 40, more than 40 but less than 50 or over 50?"

"Yes. That one."

"Oh wow, okay, um, that's if for the qualifying questions and based on your answers you are eligible to participate in the survey. So I'll just got ahead with the first section here. Um, we want to start by talking about products and services here that you might use in any activities relating to the destruction of evil. Now, I want to stress, Mr. Giles, that I am not selling anything here. We're just talking about opinions and perceptions. Anyway, I'm going to read you a list here, if you could just tell me which of these items you have or use..."

"Fine, okay."

"Great. Um, stakes? You use any stakes in your destruction of..."

"Yes."

"Great. Okay, how about crosses? You use any of those?"

"Yes."

"Okay. And...holy water? Any holy water in the destruction of evil?"

"Yes."

"Okay. And how about cross-bows. You use any cross-bows?"

"Yes."

"Okay. How about axes? You use any axes when you're destroying evil out there?"

"Sometimes."

"Okay. And...scythes?"

"Not often."

"But you do use them?"

"Yes."

"How about daggers? You use daggers?"

"Yes."

"Okay. And would those be standard daggers or would they be ceremonial ones?"

"Mostly ceremonial, I'd wager."

"Okay. Flame-throwers?"

"No. But that does sound appealing, now that you mention it."

"Okay, that's actually the next question here. Um, of the items I mentioned, are there any that you are not using that you might be interested in?"

"I believe I just answered that."

"Right, okay. Now, um, I am going to ask you to consider two items at a time that you might use in the destruction of evil, and imagine that you have eleven points to divide between them to indicate which one you prefer and by how much. If you preference for one of them is very strong, you might give it eleven and the other one zero, or perhaps ten and one. You can divide the points up any way you'd like to indicate your preference. So, um, the first two items are stakes and cross-bows."

His brow furrowed thoughtfully. "You're serious?"

There was a slight pause. "Okay, so you have eleven points, see, and you have to divide them between the..."

"Yes, yes, I understand the question, I just can't believe you're serious. All right, then, five and a half to each."

"Okay, is there one you might slightly prefer? Cause you have eleven points, see..."

"Well stakes are better for short-range work, but you can't beat cross-bows for coming in from a distance..."

"Okay, so you have eleven points..."

"Fine. Six to stakes, five to cross-bows, and I can't believe we are even having this conversation."

"Okay. Um...stakes and holy water?"

"Holy water really doesn't do more than slow them down. Two to holy water, nine to stakes."

"Cross-bows and holy water?"

"Two to holy water, nine to cross-bows."

"Okay. Now, when I say 'forces of evil' what words come to mind to describe this term?"

"Um..."

"Any words you think of at all. Any concepts, ideas..."

"Well, they're bad," he said.

"Uh huh."

"And, um, we should fight them. Because they're evil. I don't know. What would you like me to say?"

"We're just trying to get your opinions, we can go on to the next question, it's not a problem. Oh, this is actually the last section here. I am going to read out a number of statements that might relate to the destruction of evil. For each statement, just indicate how strongly you agree, using a scale of one to ten where one is you don't agree at all and ten is you agree very strongly. Okay, so the first statement is 'there is more evil than there used to be.' Between one and ten?"

"Well, I do live on a hellmouth, so perhaps I am not representative."

"In a general sense. In your opinion."

"Okay, um, I agree."

"How strongly? Between one and ten?"

"Oh, all right. Six."

"Okay. 'We are better equipped to fight the forces of evil than we used to be.'"

He thought of Buffy, of her strength, of her bravery. Of the value her modern stubbornness had been to her. "Ten," he said.

"Okay. Um, 'useful organizations exist that can help me in my fight against evil.'"

He thought of Quentin Travers waltzing into his shop and snapping his fingers at a lackey to shut Giles down. "One," he said.

"Okay. Um, 'I would rely on organizations that exist to fight evil if they were to make their resources available to me.'"

"An emphatic one."

"Wonderful. Just a few more here. Um, 'modern weapons e.g. guns, tasers, bombs, cannons are as effective in the fight against evil as traditional weapons e.g. dagger, stake, sword, cross-bow.'"

"Well, guns are bloody useless. We did find a cannon helpful once, and tasers can be quite handy. Overall though, I am a classicist. So I say five."

"Wonderful. Okay, 'in the fight against evil, I feel I am an important contributor.'"

"Ten."

"Okay, and the last statement, 'in the fight against evil, I feel others would say I am an important contributor.'"

That one gave him pause. What did the others really think of him? Buffy, Xander, Willow, Anya...had they ever really thought...Buffy did get him reinstated by the council when that ponce Travers swooped in for his latest muckabout. And they did come to him, often, with research questions. She had confided in him about Dawn...

But did they really care, any of them? Did they really see him as...best not to go there. He hedged his bets and answered neutrally. "Five."

"Okay. And finally, just to group your answers..." She walked him through some standard demographic questions, ending with a perky "Those are all my questions than. On behalf of Adver-Now, my name is Cindy and I want to thank you so much for your time today..."

He hung up the phone feeling gut-punched. he had just spent ten minutes talking about the fight against evil with someone. This was something he often did---but this was the first time he had been thanked for it. He glanced at his watch and realized he still had ten minutes before Buffy was due to arrive for her training session. He broke into a grin, pulling out her schedule from under his desk and making some revisions. She was going to get a different kind of training today!