Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass- it is about learning to dance in the rain.

Saturday, June 07, 2008


First of all, I got up at 4:30 a.m. this morning. The time of the test was 7:15, and the location is 50 miles from here which can take anywhere from an hour and fifteen minutes to two and a half or three hours to drive depending on variables like Chicago traffic and Chicago construction. It also depends on whether or not one's car is equipped with jet boosters. I don't have jet boosters, but I made it in an hour and a half and that included one little miscue taking Cicero Avenue South instead of North off of the 294 Toll Road. Just minutes from the Indiana border, this is the far South Side of Chicago, Eastern European territory.

I was fortunate. When I turned around, there was this nice toothless young man who gave really accurate directions. Fortunately also, he wasn't an employee of any government agency. In Chicago public servants are seldom hired and are immediately fired if they don't maintain the attitude of an executioner when dealing with the public. This is true whether it's a Illinois Toll Road employee, an employee of the INS, the Passport Office or one of the courts in Chicago. It goes with the territory. One must at all time maintain a scowl, a gruff voice and absolutely no eye contact with the public one is serving. One of the toll booth attendants today looked me in the eye, almost smiled and spoke in a pleasant voice. He's not long for that job unless he makes drastic changes.

So I arrived on time. At 6:45 a.m. The door to the school opened at 7:15 a.m. About 500 or so mostly 20-something people each about half my body mass hung around outside or scrunched into the entryway waiting to be tortured. There were several language tests being given: German, French, Chinese and Spanish are ones I remember. Also many people were there to take the basic skills test to obtain Illinois teacher certification for the first time. So, it's me and all of those recently-out-of-college young things just hanging out for half an hour.

I had my entry ticket with me containing my registration confirmation and seat number in the testing room along with the required two forms of ID, social security number, and several sharpened #2 pencils. I had also carefully removed all electronic devices from my person including cell phone and digital camera which I locked in my glove box. Just to be safe, I also removed my Argus presentation remote which has a laser pointer. I might have been able to Morse Code answers to someone with that, assuming I knew any answers to laser. Also assuming I knew Morse Code. I worried for a couple of minutes about the remote to my car, but decided to be very brazen and leave it in my purse. The directions clearly stated, and I quote: "Cellular phones, personal digital assistants, and all other types of electronic information or communication devices are strictly prohibited in the testing facility. Reported possession or use of any such device will result in the voiding of your test scores." I didn't want to risk anyone reporting me for possession of a device, so I hid the car remote in the bottom of my very large purse. I also took the precaution of taking out a very large Kleenex (Okay, it was a napkin) and placing it on my desk in plain view (no chance of notes being written on it) in case I should sneeze during the test. I have asthma and sometimes sneeze VERY LOUDLY. I didn't want to have to risk digging in my purse for a tissue. Thus, I was prepared.

After checking all ID's several times, verifying social security number, and the test registration number which is about twice as long as a social security number, I was allowed to take a seat. I decided to take a bathroom break before the test began. When I came back my water bottle had been removed from my desk and placed on the floor because water bottles are not allowed on the desks. For real.

Then the proctor came around with an ink pad so that we could each place a thumb print on the answer key. Next we were all given a cup to pee into. Okay. The cup was hyperbole. The thumb print was for real. And I was so glad I had my napkin handy to clean my thumb. More procedures followed. We had to sign the test document, the answer booklet and the attendance sheet before they brought the mortgage documents for our first-born child. I gave a wrong phone number for him, just in case they decided to follow through. After all my first-born is thirty-six years old and might object to being mortgaged thusly. I didn't mention that I had granddaughters. You just never know.

After being soundly warned, yet again, that if we violated any of these rules we would immediately be tossed out of the room on our tin ears, the test begain.

There were three parts. We had up to five hours to finish. Five hours??? I had a dance recital to get to almost two hours away. So I held my breath and started. The first hour and a half I spent on reading short passages and answering multiple choice questions. A lot of them! I'm certain that I did very well on this section. I ran across two questions containing words that I was uncertain about the meaning. With context clues I believe I guessed right. I may have aced it, or at least did well.

The second part was the essay. I spent an hour on an essay that I could have tossed off in English in twenty minutes. My Spanish version was basic, contained bad grammar and spelling errors galore. So at 10:30 I was ready for the oral section of the test.

I was escorted by a young man who may have been old enough to be a college student from the testing room to the other testing room. When I needed to take a bathroom break, he asked to hold the audio tape that I had been given. Since no testee could have any electronic device, I'm not sure how I would have tampered with the tape. Maybe with my car remote? He did not give me a cup for a specimen. Dodged that one again.

He waited for me outside the bathroom. Do you know how long it's been since someone did that?? Then he escorted me to the test lab for the audio test.

I had mixed emotions. Usually I do very well speaking Spanish. Even though I knew there would be a stranger sitting there (one of those young things) watching me speak into a tape recorder, I felt undaunted. Then I learned that my response had to be two minutes long. And there was only one question. Two minutes!!! You have to be kidding. I can't even write a teeny blog! This one testifies to that! I get a prompt; I have two minutes to think, then two minutes to speak. In two minutes I was confident I could think at least a thought and a half if I didn't have a senior moment. But condense that thought and a half down to two minutes? Incredulous, I said to another very nice young man, "You mean the future of my career is going to rest on two minutes of conversation?"

Mostly businesslike, he replied, "Pretty much. You have two minutes to answer the question. The tape will tell you to stop."

He did smile though. I knew then he wasn't a Chicago public servant, but a real human being helping proctor this test.

I did manage to get at least a thought and a half together and to talk for two minutes. And only two minutes. Do not pass Go; do not collect two hundred dollars.

On the way out I stopped at the information desk and asked the very nice young lady there when I would receive word on the results. She said it would be emailed to me on July 3. If for any reason I don't receive an email, I may check the website. But I'm sure that for that I will have to now mortgage my younger son. There goes the family. All for the sake of a job.

Oh yes. I did make the recital at intermission time. Unfortunately I missed the performance of the 8 year old, but I did catch the 6 year old dancing. She had been very weepy at the prospect of my absence. I was able to see the 8 year-old lead her team on stage and make a very snazzy pose for the curtain call.

Now I have to learn how to think about something other than, "Did I fail the essay?? Or did I squeak by with the strength of reading comprehension?" Until July 3. Until July 3? For the next 26 days, I must ignore my screaming brain? That's harder than telling everything I know in two minutes!


Candid Engineer said...

Wow, that's a really long time to have to wait. Hopefully, you have something fun to do in the interim to keep your mind off of the impending results.

alicia said...

I hope July 3rd comes for you really quick!

here from NaComleavMo

Dr. Bad Ass said...

Great story! Best of luck as you wait for your results.

There's a toll road near where I live (pretty far west of you!), and the people who work in those toll booths are UNFAILINGLY pleasant, joking, laughing, etc. Amazing. It surprises me every time I go through.

Kim said...

I hope you get good results in July! I give you a passing score for preparedness! NCLM

Ballerina Girl said...

where do I start? first the public servants...very funny and boy am I glad that I don't live there!
the tests...good luck! I will say a prayer that everything goes well with ti! I am sure you did fine!
Sometimes the experience that we have in our later ages of life help us when we need them!
Here we go for July 3rd...we will be awaiting with you!
Buena suerte!

son said...

all will be well,

Mrs. Darling said...

Goodness what an ordeal! I sur ehoep you do well.

Thank you so much for your support and prayers during this time with my dad.

Sam said...

Good grief!! That brings back a few memories of exams at school, although we didn't have to be fingerprinted!!

Sarah said...

Holy crap! That is a lot to go through for a test! Prayers for a passing score!

Harmony said...

Good luck, and hope the waiting is going smoothly. Oops..I probably shouldn't have left this comment, cuz now you're going to think about it again.

Found your site through NCLM.

Dreams Come True said...

Hope you passed the test!! I've been there, done that.. and it's not fun at all!!

Best of luck as well with the new position in the fall!!!

truth said...

Wow, very intense! You write with such humor, "so I hid the car remote in the bottom of my very large purse." So funny. I'll bet you did just fine.

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