Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Test, Part 2

Not been able to concentrate on the latest doings of the Bachelor? Oblivious to the current caterwauling on American Idol?

You must be on tenterhooks waiting to learn if our Dilated Dynamo recovered his eyesight in time to take the census taker’s exam.

Squirm no more, all is about to be revealed.

If you have not read The Test, Part 1, my last blog, I suggest you do so now. Upon completion you may decide you don’t give a rat’s ass and can spare yourself Part 2.

I arrived home from my eye exam with just 45 minutes to spare before I had to leave for Clinton, a ten mile drive, to take the census test. Still feeling like the girl with kaleidoscope eyes, I decided to snooze for a few minutes in an attempt to stabilize my vision. No luck.

Next I scoured the house in a search for sun glasses. No luck.
I stopped at Rite Aid on the way and picked up a pair of clip-ons.
Unfortunately, when I got to the car and attempted to put them on, I discovered there was a large tag affixed to the nose bridge with one of those confounded plastic gizmos that are impossible to break. Not having anything to cut it, I rode the next eight miles with the tag flapping in front of my eyes. It didn’t matter that much, since I was blind already. It’s scary to contemplate how many idiots like me may be driving around out there risking life, limb and the public safety to take a test for a low paying, part time job.

Somehow I made it to the Clinton Library, the site of the test, with 15 minutes to spare. I dashed in and asked the librarian to direct me to the test room. The fact that she took two steps back and reached for what I assumed was an alarm button, reminded me to remove my tag-encumbered sun glasses.

I entered the test room and found 12 other applicants already seated and filling out their preliminary forms. I took a seat at a table with three other men. All were retired and all had been employed by ATT or Lucent Technologies. A sense of doom crept over me: not only was I blind, but I was competing for a bureaucratic position with a bunch of bureaucrats. I tried to concentrate on my forms as they whined on about the sad state of their pensions and 401Ks.

The moderator, also an ATT&T vet, launched into his spiel about the exam. I don’t remember everything he said, but he stressed the fact that if we had a criminal record it was unlikely we would get a position even if we passed the test. One gentleman got up and left the room. I hoped I had locked my car.

He also emphasized the importance of not writing on the exam paper, and directed us to confine our notes and calculations to the answer sheet and scrap paper.

He passed out the exam and told us we had 30 minutes to complete the 28 questions which were divided into 6 categories. I don’t remember all of them but they included organization, math, reading and management skills.

Pencils ready, and off! Panic sets in right off the bat when I realize the questions are badly blurred. I discover the best way to bring them into focus is to remove my glasses and bring my nose as close to the paper as I can. This disconcerts the woman across from me who either thinks I am so brilliant that I have time to doze off, or that I am having a spell.

I struggle with the organization section of the test pretty much as I have struggled with the organization section of my life. The math is even worse. The 7s look like 1s and the 3s look like 8s. Half way through the math, the moderator announces there are fifteen minutes remaining. I glance to the right side of my answer sheet and see I have four more sections to complete after the current one. In addition, I notice that I have been calculating and doodling all over the test paper in clear violation of Federal regulations. Visions of spending my golden years at Levenworth pass through my head as I frantically erase.

Panic gives way to despair. I don’t want to be a Census taker anyway. Who wants to be crawling around a trailer park in the dead of night trying to figure out who is married to which cousin? Besides, what do you expect, I’m blind for cripe's sake.

I catch a break when I blow through the reading section in 2 minutes flat. The rest is a blur, mentally as well as physically. I answer the last question and put my pencil down just as time expires.

We wait while the moderator grades our exams. I am convinced I have failed and determine that I will not take it again. I just hope he doesn’t read our grades out in front of the whole group as the nuns used to do back in grade school or say something snotty about all the erasures on my test form.

He doesn’t. He calls me over and tells me that I have passed and answered 24 of the 28 questions correctly. How this can be possible, I don’t ask.

When I get outside I put my sunglasses back on, tag flapping proudly in the afternoon breeze, and head for home.


Mary Lois said...

I laughed out loud at this! Am I the only one?

Jerry Andersen said...

You may be the only one who has read it. All the other visitors have been looking for information about Clooney's hair....arrrrrrgh!!

Mary Lois said...

Serves you right for posting about something that would attract readers, you prostitute.

Mark Bench said...

I, too, laughed aloud...and for me, that's a problem--just had surgery. Very entertaining, Jerry.