Friday, March 26, 2010

I'm good at counting (lyn)

Get an email from a friend in Chicago who is starting Weight Watchers.  She writes to me with questions.  I’ve become a weight loss evangelist, and I love imparting advice.  I can already picture my friend getting excited as she watches the pounds melt away.  Ridiculous as it may sound, I’m nostalgic for those early days.

At one, I am scheduled to take a test to see if I am sufficiently intelligent to be a part-time census worker.  The pay is about 10% of what I used to earn, but 100% more than what I earn currently.

I arrive thirty minutes early, as I’ve been instructed to do.  I’m there before the people from the Census Bureau even show up.  When they finally arrive, I follow them to the test-taking room.  There I sit and wait for 45 minutes until everyone else arrives.  I’m restless as I think of all the other things I could be doing (helping Alexander with a scholarship application; continuing an argument over a recent bill with Dollar Rent-a-Car; organizing the computer, printer, and phone wires under my computer; trying to remove some leftover glue on my bedroom rug from a mouse trap; replacing a gel seat on my Humanscale desk chair; etc).  So many exciting things to do in the greatest city in the world, and instead, I’m sitting on the 3rd floor of a NYC public library, waiting to take a 30-minute test to be a census taker.

Finally, little booklets are distributed.  The class of eight collectively completes two sample questions.  We are then told we can open our booklets and begin.  It’s like taking the SAT.  Well, sort-of.  I haven’t taken a test of any kind in over 20 years, and it’s not as easy as I had thought it would be.  In fact, when the proctor calls out, “Fifteen minutes to go,” I’m not quite half done.  I pick up my pace and come across question 24 which I think is so poorly worded that two possible answers could qualify for a correct one.  I want to point this out to the proctor, but we are not allowed to ask questions once the test has begun.

The proctor yells time, and we immediately have to put down our pencils.  The tests are corrected one by one, and I am the first name called.  “Congratulations,” I’m told.   I got a 97%; 70% is passing.  I want to discuss question number 24 but instead I’m dismissed.

So now I go into a pool and IF there is a need in my neighborhood for a census worker and IF there aren’t enough Vets who qualify and IF all the people who speak a second language have been hired, then maybe, just maybe, I’ll get a call that qualifies me to work for maybe 7 weeks or so, including nights and weekends, at a job that pays slightly more than minimum wage.  

I walk home thinking of that Peggy Lee song, Is that All There Is?

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