Home Login Contact



Will Work For Purell by Ray Printer Friendly

I mentioned a while back that I was going to try to write something for each section this month. I thought the difficult part of that goal might have something to do with the amount of writing I’d have to do, but it turns out that writing piles and piles of bullshit isn’t really all that big of a deal for me.

What is turning out to be a problem is a couple of the categories. We started this site back when we lived in New York City. We had jobs then, and we even went out to clubs and things. The premise for “The Rent” was that we’d write about our shitty jobs and the crap we had to do in order to keep a roof over our heads. The “White Men Can’t Dance” section was an area designated to describe the various mishaps and adventures we ran into while out at the clubs.

But I don’t have a job at the moment (it has been a long moment), and I don’t go out anymore.

I recently went to a wedding, and I figured that that might fit into the Can’t Dance section, but the entire experience was so awful that I’d prefer to never think of it again, much less write about it.

Trey said I should write about a few of the instances from our days in New York, but I still have to search around to make sure I don’t have even one shred of dignity or self-respect before I do that. In the meantime, I guess I could write about this job thing I went to the other day.

I say job thing because it wasn’t an interview. It was a group test. For the Census Bureau. “Bureau” is one of the stupidest spelled words in the world, by the way. The vowel to constant ration is off the charts, and the entire word is just ugly. And I realize that “stupidest spelled words in the world” isn’t grammatically correct, but I don’t care.


I saw the ad on Craig’s List, and called more out of curiosity than any real desire for a job. Don’t get me wrong—I want a job. I really want a job. I just wasn’t too enthused about walking door to door and asking people to fill out paperwork.

I figured I might get an interesting story or two out of it, though, and also figured that it would be a good way to make a little money while I worked on my portfolio and résumé and all that stuff I need to do to get a real job.

I called the number and was connected to a man with a Middle Eastern accent so heavy that for a second, I thought I might have called tech support. He told me someone would call me back to arrange a test time.

Sure enough, someone called a few days later. His accent was even thicker than the first guy’s, and as I wrote down his instructions, I wondered if I was going to show up to some random old woman’s house because I misheard the directions. He told me not to be late, because they closed the doors at exactly one, and any late-comers were out of luck. He also told me I could go to a website to take a practice test and get more details.

When I got off the phone, I checked the website he had mentioned and was informed that there was no such place, but I could buy the domain, if I was interested.

I wasn’t.

I did some Googling until I found the correct web page, and then took the test.

It was stupid easy. The hardest part was taking the test seriously. Actually, that’s not entirely true. The hardest part was taking the time to read through every question carefully, because there were a lot of odd questions. Not hard questions, mind you, just questions you needed to read carefully. Putting things in numerical or alphabetical order and such. Or like matching names in one column to names in another, and they were all like Maria Sofia Guzman and Marie Sofie Guzman and Maria Sophia Guzeman. Like that.

I also got directions to the place. Google told me I’d need twenty eight minutes to get there. I decided to give myself forty minutes, even though I’ve been to Round Rock several times, and it usually takes about fifteen minutes.

Of course, I caught every red light there, and by the time I made it to Round Rock, I had about seven minutes to spare. Which is when I realized that I had left the directions and the address at home.

By some miracle, I made it to the place just before they locked the doors, totally freaking out. I quickly made my way into the room and took a seat at an empty table. There were two chairs at each table, and I walked all the way across the room to make sure that no other late-comers ended up beside me.

Because I hate people.

“We’ll go ahead and give it another ten minutes,” the guy said. Figures.

Just before they closed the door, this rat-looking fucker comes in, and heads right for me, passing several empty tables to do it. His eyes were all bulgy and he had a sleazy looking pornstache and as soon as he sat down, he began scratching furiously at his head.

When I say furiously, I mean furiously. I can’t think of anything to compare it to, really. Like a dog with serious case of fleas, kind of, but even louder. It was traumatizing.

I tried to scoot my chair away, but every time I did, he’d scoot a little closer to me. And every time I glanced over, he’d stop scratching and glare at me.

I finally broke. “Are you okay, man?”

“I’m fine,” he snapped. He stared at me for a few seconds, and I stared back. And then, very slowly, his hand lifted to his head again, while our eyes were locked, and he began scratching again. I shrugged and looked away.

The instructor handed out all the stuff we’d need for the test, and then explained the rules. Chief among them was that we were to turn off our cell phones.

“Turn off your cell phones,” he said. “Turn off your cell phones. Turn off your cell phones. Turn off your cell phones!” That’s exactly how he said it.

“Don’t just put them on vibrate. Turn them off!

I knew my phone was off, but I double-checked, just to make sure. Yep. Off.

After explaining all the rules, the instructor told us to take a quick break, to use the restroom or stretch our legs, or make sure our phones were off.

The dude beside me stands up, and brushes all the shit off his legs. Like all the scalp tissue and shit that he has scratched off. I almost puked, and couldn’t help jumping out of my chair and away from him. He just stared at me and continued to brush the crap off his pants. Then he went out into the hall.

Screw it, I thought, I can get through this. Thirty minutes, I’m outta here.

When the break was over, everyone was back in their seat except for the guy who had sat beside me. I kind of hoped he had been shot to death behind the building, but he was just late. He strode back in, one of his fingers digging around in his ear.

“You must use the pencils supplied by us,” the instructor said. All I could think about was that there were probably a hundred disgusting freaks like the guy beside me who had come in to take this test, and they had used the same pencil I was going to have to use.

I made a mental note not to touch anything until I had washed my hands.

They passed out the test and told us to begin. Thirty minutes to answer 28 questions. No sweat.

I was off to a good start, I really was.

And then the alarm on my phone started ringing. I quickly mashed my hand against my pocket, and the sound silenced. Everyone in the room turned and looked at me. I waved an apology, as we weren’t allowed to talk.

See, what I didn’t realize was that even if my phone is turned off, the alarm will still sound. I had set it the day before to announce when I was supposed to change from one homework task to another.

I stuck my hand in my pocket and began fumbling around with my phone. Because I have my alarm set at ten minute intervals, which meant that it would be ringing again soon. I struggled to get the back of my phone off, hoping to remove the battery. And I watched the time tick away.

Finally, I gathered my things, stood from my desk, and approached the instructor. Who promptly freaked the fuck out. Because we weren’t supposed to get up from our desks or talk to him, and I was doing both, you see.

I figured I’d probably be immediately disqualified, but instead, he walked me back to my desk. I whispered the situation to him, and he looked like I had just kicked his dog to death. He put his hand over his eyes and shook his head sadly. Then he covered his mouth with his hand and looked troubled.

“Okay, take your phone out, right here in front of me. Take the battery out and then put it all back in your pocket.”

I did, and then he nodded and went back to the front. I sat down and continued my test.

No need to freak out, I told myself. Still plenty of time.

“You have fifteen minutes left,” the instructor said. I looked down at my test and was a little surprised to see that I was still on question six.


I hurried through the rest of the test, trying to pay close attention, but also wanting to finish before the time limit.

I finished, and went back through a few of the questions, not sure at all how I had done.

“Just wait there,” the instructor said. “We’ll grade these right quick, and then we’ll tell you your grade on the way out.”

The creepy fuck beside me began scratching again. I scooted my chair to the very end of the desk, deciding subtlety could suck my nuts.

He glared at me and I shrugged. Fuckhole.

I was the second to last person called, just after the creepy little freak beside me. Luck of the draw, and you know how my luck goes.

I should mention that throughout the process, the instructor would make little comments like, “Wow, you must have hacked the system.” Or “We got a lot of big brains in here.” Implying, I assumed, perfect scores. Which, honestly, wasn’t even that impressive.

He called my name. There was no comment about being a big brain or hacking the system.

27 out of 28. On a test that a crack-smoking, masturbating, brain damaged monkey could have aced.


Anyway, I probably won’t get that job. Or if I do, I’ll probably be working with the head-scratching shitball.

I saw the IHOP down the street was hiring, maybe I should check that out.

posted 2/28/09

Entered By Karen From Indiana
2009-03-01 02:39:40

I totally took that same test about a month ago. Only no head scratchers, thankfully. It was the kind of test that was so easy, you'd worry that you misread the question. I'm sure I tried too hard. I was surprised to find that I took the entire time. But there was no scoring on the way out - that sucks! Those are good paying jobs, though. I haven't heard back, so maybe I totally flunked the easiest test in the world. Awesome... *sigh* I got laid off on Thursday. It helps that there are millions in the same situation, but only a little. Friends and family are being really nice to me right now, but I'm sure in three months they'll be all "shut up about not finding a job already!" Oh well, I'll milk it while I can. Got a case of Corona from a friend - yeah, the best part of being laid off is the beginning, I'm sure.

Entered By Ray From Austin
2009-03-01 03:38:22

Holy crap! You got laid off? Sorry to hear that, man. That means like 98% of The Strangelands readers are unemployed. Weird. We should all get together and have a big party where we get drunk and make cardboard signs saying anything helps and God bless.

Entered By Karen From Indiana
2009-03-10 21:22:39

I got a call about a census job today. Phew! Glad I didn't fail the test that a "crack-smoking, masturbating, brain damaged monkey could have aced." An 8 week gig at $13.75/hour plus mileage won't help for long, but it's something. Week 9, I'm totally in on the drunken party with the cardboard signs.

Entered By Ray From Austin
2009-03-12 03:31:52

Congratulations, man. You'll have to tell us how it all turned out.

Add Comment:
Name: Location: