My super fun weekend continued today with a couple of job-related tasks I needed to get done. The first was fingerprinting for my eventual (hopeful) insurance license; the other was the test itself.

Obviously, I have had a lot going on, and in studying for my exam, I have found myself struggling mightily. In my academic life, I have never failed any test. I test extremely well. This isn’t because I’m so smart, but just because I don’t panic and I can kind of intuit answers, even if I’m not entirely sure what they’re supposed to be. However, this insurance stuff had me panicked. It would not stick to my brain.

The thing is, I have an incredible capacity for memorization. If I’ve ever bothered to learn the words to a song, I still know them. All.

Hand me a script, I’ll read through it twice, and by the third rehearsal, I’ll have my part pretty much sewn up. It just makes sense to me: the ebbs and flow of conversation, the seemingly unrelated injection here and there… My brain likes that kind of thing, and it eats it up.

I was a theater major. I read and wrote a lot. My brain loves literature and humor and cleverness and basically, insurance is the antithesis of that. It has numbers and dry facts and lots of regulations. And my near-middle-aged liberal arts brain was outright rejecting my efforts to cram information into it.

“No, thanks,” my brain would say, and I’d be on to trying to figure out how I could set my camera up to do a stop-motion video.

Plus, we’ve been so busy. My days blur into weeks, and Fridays when I teach are suddenly “tomorrow” and I haven’t bought supplies yet, and then it’s Tuesday and Zumba, and then it’s Thanksgiving. Planning to move, showing the trailer so often, trying to stay calm yet running almost constantly… That, too, has been a drain.

I have basically lived in denial about this day. I was a bit relieved, after the drama yesterday, to know that all I had to worry about was the test. No Ikea run whilst down there. No list-making. No spending money. Just the test. Likely the first test I would ever flunk. Just another diseased feather in my hat of crap. (You’re welcome.)

This morning, I dropped Daphne off at my parents’ and went over to find Sylvan Learning Center. I was going to Sylvan to be finger-printed. Weird combo to me, but the lady on the phone Thursday had made it very clear to me that Building 9 was Sylvan, not whatever the name of the fingerprinting agency was. Apparently, lots of people get lost looking for it. It’s in one of the dozens of strip malls in the parking area of the gigantic Stonebriar Centre. I did hear a lady who came in after me say, “We were looking for the name…”

Oh, that lady who told me exactly what to look for on Thursday? I had called the company because, unlike the testing facility, I had not received any confirmation on the fingerprinting. I went online to confirm my appointment and got an e-mail stating that they had no record of my registration. What?? So I called them. The lady on the phone said, “Actually, you’re scheduled for two slots. 12:20 and 12:30.” I remembered that. I’d thought I’d signed up for the 12:20 slot, but didn’t get a confirmation, so went back in to do it again and the 12:20 wasn’t available anymore. So I’d taken the 12:30 slot.

“I’ll take the 12:20,” I told her. “Okay. Well, you’re all paid up, so we’ll see you Saturday.” She then explained in detail where they were located.

Today, I got there about half an hour early, but figured that I would maybe squeeze in and give myself more time to get to the testing facility. I went inside, and watched the nice lady at the desk look all over her computer screen, trying to conjure my name out of nothing. I also noticed a grandpa-type inside the center, tutoring two young kids. They looked like they were having a good enough time for having to study on a Saturday.

My name wasn’t in the computer. She asked me to have a seat while she tried to call the main center. Then she had her manager e-mail and call. No one was available. We waited for an hour. No one got back to them. They couldn’t do my fingerprints. There are numbers associated with the whole insurance thing, and those would have been in the paperwork I had gotten in the confirmation e-mail had that been an actual thing. Which it wasn’t.

I left discouraged. Briefly. Then sucked it up and headed down the road.

The testing facility was in a really nice office building. I got there early and looked around. It was post-apocalyptic. There should have been someone at the front desk. There should have been someone in the sundry store. There was no one anywhere. Not in the shiny elevator bay. Not in the mail room. Not in the nice-smelling restrooms. It was creepy.

After I killed some time, I went ahead into the testing center. I wasn’t sure what to expect. When I took my real estate test in Nevada (That’s right; I had a real estate license at one point. Life’s crazy.), there were a bunch of us there, we all sat for the test together, and we had to fill it out on paper. With bubbles. And Number Two pencils.

This wasn’t the case today, though. Although my appointment wasn’t until 2, I was able to get checked in at 1:25. I placed everything I had with me except for my driver’s license in a provided locker. I asked the lady at the desk if I’d need my pencils. She said, “Everything you need for the examination will be given to you inside.”

She went to check something while I read over the instructions. There were things about how I couldn’t take unauthorized material into the room, and how, if I took a copious amount of breaks or consulted notes or made a phone call, I would be carted off to indentured servitude.

Then I was invited to go ahead and start testing. I had to sit with the proctor outside of the room full of computer terminals first. She took my info, took my picture (not a flattering one, either… between rain, wind, and a super low mega-pixel webcam), had me turn out my pockets and push up my sleeves, wanded my front, turned me around, had me sweep my back pockets, wanded my back, and gave me two sharpened pencils and a yellow booklet of scratch paper.

She invited me to follow her into the room, and asked me to stand at the door while she prepared my computer. As she did, I looked down at the scratch paper and noticed that I was to turn it back in when I left the test. It reminded me of the story Daphne and I just read called “Matched.” In their society, every piece of paper is accounted for.

When I glanced back up, she was silently motioning to me that I could join her. She patted me on the shoulder and walked away.

So it started. 150 (and a few bonuses, for research purposes) questions. About insurance. At about 90 questions, I started getting sleepy. After I’d been there an hour, there was a break. I skipped it, because I was more than 2/3 of the way through and I just wanted to get finished.

That ridiculous webcam picture grinned apishly at me from the upper right corner of the screen through the entire test. By the time I was in the 120s, I was having difficulty staying awake. It as literally boring me to sleep. I had marked about six questions I wanted to review when I was finished with the exam, so I went back through and checked those… Then I decided that it might be a good idea to go ahead and check all of the questions.

I ended up changing several answers, and I don’t know if those were good moves or bad moves, except on two questions where I realized that in one, they had used “all” in the answer I had chosen (which typically indicates that it is NOT the correct option) and then the other one, where I had somehow skipped the word “exclusion” in a different answer, and that made it the correct choice. Otherwise, I might have been changing right answers into wrong ones. Reviewing the questions squeezed every last drop of thought process I had left. My brain felt like it had been pushed through a strainer. Probably half of the questions, I just thought, “Is this material something to which I have ever been exposed??”

At the end of the testing process, there were a series of optional survey-type questions I took. Then all of a sudden, it said, “Your test results will appear on the next screen…” then some blah blah about how that didn’t guarantee anything. I hadn’t realized I’d be given the results in such an immediate fashion. That fight-or-flight blood-drain from the legs that happens the second you realize that, yes, that cop IS pulling you over happened. I nervously clicked and scanned the page for the magic number (because there were a lot of them).

I had to make a 70% to pass the test. I had made… 70%. Exactly. Which would be a C in school, and totally unacceptable for me. Unless it was in business math. I gave myself leniency in that one. And PE.

Relief washed over me, and I started to cry. I tried to suck it up, not wanting to disturb anyone else, or have them think that I had failed the test. I gathered up my pencils and paper and headed out to the proctor’s desk. As I put it down, she looked up at me and I had to tell her, “I’m sooo happy. I’ve had the worst day, but I just passed my test.” She broke into a big grin, then cocked her head, and asked, “Can I give you a hug?”

She got up from her desk, rounded it to where I was, and hugged me. “You deal with so much bad; it’s great to have something good happen. Good for you.”

So now I just have to try not to lose that notarized paper before I apply for my license. What are the odds?

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