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Do You Know What “Volunteer” Means?

, , , , , , | Healthy | July 3, 2021

I used to take part in clinical trials for a little extra cash. The trials were easy; they usually involved visiting the clinic for about an hour a day over a week, testing different lotions on our legs to see how well they moisturized. Everyone who participated had to fill out a form at the very beginning. Apart from the usual disclaimers, it said that we were volunteers and we would be paid a certain amount of money for our time. As far as I was concerned, I was being paid grocery money to do next to nothing, and I was glad for the opportunity.

One day, about halfway through the trial, one of the other participants suddenly spoke up.

Participant: *Loudly* “You know what I just realized? We’re only being paid [total] for [time] hours. That’s not even minimum wage!”

She looked around the room with a self-satisfied expression, obviously expecting us to agree with her. No one said anything. In fact, we all pretty much pretended that we hadn’t heard her. Irritated by the lack of response, she said:

Participant: *Even more loudly* “They’re taking advantage of us! We should ask for more money!”

Along came a clinic employee, and I inwardly cringed. I’d done several of these trials, and I’d seen this lady before. She had NO tolerance for fools.

Employee: “I understand that you have a complaint?”

Participant: “Uh… Well, you’re not even paying us minimum wage.”

Employee: “That’s right. Remember that form you signed which said that you’re a volunteer? Volunteers, as a rule, don’t get paid, but we are paying you [total].”

Participant: “…”

Employee: “So. Do you still have a complaint?”

Participant: *Meekly* “No.”

Employee: “Good.”

She walked away, and I didn’t hear another peep from that participant.

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