Friday, March 15, 2013

Brazilian Whack Job is a dumb title

One time, I went to see a vocational guidance counselor.

He was from Brazil and spoke with a strong accent; his skin was the color of swarth.

"Tell me about yourself," he said.

I began to rattle off a brief personal history, starting with my birth, but he made a shushy noise to interrupt me.

"No, man, no. What are your passions?"

"Passions. I don't know. I used to like to write...."

"You mean like a diary?"

"No, I guess I mean like stories and poetry and stuff. Poems about my sadness."

Without waiting for him to invite me to, I began intoning:

Dr.Hugo groaned.

"Okay, okay, let's start over." He pushed some papers at me that were covered in those little circles you are to fill in completely with a number 2 pencil. You usually have thirty minutes.

"I will give you a battery of tests, each one designed to isolate specific skill sets you might possess."

Some of the questions on the test:

"Do you prefer to solve problems open-endedly or cross purposely?"

"Are you pro-active in the face of logistical obstructions, or the opposite of pro-active, which is a word no one knows?"

"What do you think was the main idea of the story? If you were Jamal, would you have accepted the shoes from Pastor Morgan? Why or why not?"

"Would you rather make out with your dead Dad for one minute, or have diarrhea on your prom date's dress?"

When I was finished, he scanned the results, his tongue clucking away like a rich, Brazilian chicken.


"Is it bad, Doc?" I asked.

He took his glasses off and buried his face into his knuckles.

"I am going to say a word, one word, and I just want you to hold back all of your snap judgements, all your instincts, and just let that word wash over your mind."

My seat creaked as I shifted forward in nervous anticipation.

"Plumber," he said, pronouncing it like 'plome-er'.


"Yes. The tests tell me 'plumber'."

I frowned.

"What? You don wanna be a plom-er? They make lots of money. Lots of it. You can be your own boss, your own hours..."

Dr.Hugo leaned across the desk, his forehead close to mine.

"Plome-er", he said again, almost in a whisper, like he was a magical wind of destiny and I was standing in a grove of ancient trees, straining to hear him.

"But I don't want to be a plumber." I hated how whiny my voice sounded. Truthfully, I was not even sure what being a plumber would entail. Something with pipes. Water. Frantic homeowners calling you on weekends. 

I hate the phone; I could never be a plumber.

"I'm not very good with tools," I told him.

Dr.Hugo scoffed.

"What chu mean, you are not very good with tools? Everyone can use tools. Men, women, little babies. Chimponzees."

He reached under his desk and brought out a small wooden box with a single screw in the top of it.

"Here's a little test. Inside this box is something meant just for you, man. Show me you can opeeen it."

The counselor placed a screwdriver into my hand. It smelled like torque and secret knowledge. The handle was knotted, weathered; the wooden skin of a fur trapper just setting foot upon the distant edge of the Continental Divide.

I pulled the box closer to me.

"I'm sorry," I told him, breathing heavily, "I just couldn't do it."

Dr.Hugo said nothing. His face was a tight mask of tightness, and the tightness called to mind anger.

Amidst the rubble of the box, I saw a scrap of paper lying on the ground.

"Is this my prize? Is it a coupon?" I enjoy a good coupon, but I could tell already that it was something else.

That whole appointment had changed my life, and I told him so, but I made air quotes around the word 'changed' and I rolled my eyes really high up there.

He said to please leave, and later I got a bill from him which I never paid.

One thing that is fun about not paying bills is that you get to keep the money instead.

That is a thrifty tip from me to you, my friends.


  1. I wouldn't have paid either! Careers advice invariably is about as helpful as non-stick glue. I get angry just thinking about it.

    1. Oh no! It was supposed to be funny, not angry making. Please don't hurt something out of anger.

  2. At what point did you decide to put pants on?

    1. Kelly, I don't believe I have ever reached that point.

    2. Yes, I was waiting for the male stripper aptitude test.

  3. I like your tool-using style. My husband is a carpenter and vibrates to the "right tool for the job" mantra. I drive him out of his hyper-organized mind because I grab whatever is lying around. When I am writing I will reach for what's closest. If it happens to be a crayon, so be it. Screwdriver? Why search in a tool box when the kitchen utensils are right there and a knife is seconds from my grasp? I'm probably always minutes away from an unplanned emergency room visit. NeoCleo

    1. Hey, you sound like me! I like to write myself notes using the condensation on my windshield. That way I never remember anything! Its great!

  4. My husband has a PhD in Ancient Greek and Hebrew. His other choice was "Bricklayer".
    I had no choices.....

    1. Hi Heather! I am so glad you still read this dumb blog. Your husband sounds really smart, smarter den me.

  5. Ok so this blog has officially become too intellectual for me. I actually had to use google to find out what colour swarth was. You may pretend that you're an idiot, but I'm on to you Gweenbrick. Behind that inability to use a screwdriver is a brain too big for it's casing.

    1. Ha ha! I had no idea 'swarth' was actually a word-I was just making a dumb joke on the word 'swarthy'. I had to google it now too. Its like a covering of grass or something. Please dont stop reading; I really am an idiot.

    2. Oh I can't stop reading now, it's too late this blog is like my crack. I'm just glad I don't need to start bringing a thesaurus with me when I visit.

  6. Most of my interactions width Brazilians while in Brazil were more positive than your encounter, (I think). I remember faLLing in love, at least I think it was love. That is much better than a guy-dance counselor, (I think). The girl's name was Katia, (I think). It was a long time ago, approximately four times the length of my dog's cuurent age, or more than half my life ago.

    1. Sounds very romantic. I have never been to Brazil, but I really enjoy the movie "Brazil", and I imagine they are kind of the same thing

  7. You made me laugh so hard I feel I herniated something down below!

    1. Yay! I love causing hernias. Its such an intimate kind of laughter.


  8. But seriously, how great would it be to be a plumber now? I'm sitting in my gray office making editing changes that a typing monkey could make, dreaming of sitting at home waiting for someone to call me with a leaky pipe. I'd have my own van and everything. Damn. I should have been a plumber. A lady plumber. How awesome would that be?


    1. I replied to your comment mandy, but for some reason it did not show up on here. It was a really really clever and beautifully constructed reply. Really it was better then 90% of the crap on my blog, probably better then 90% of the crap on the internet, truth be told. It was just a genuinly amazing reply. I wish you had seen it. Sniff.

  9. This is one of those posts where I just can't pick a favorite part. I'll just say that the best part may smell like swarth and look like an iceberg near the Continental Divide, or something like that. And, by the way, plumbers make a LOT of money. Seriously.

    1. Ewww does swarthiness have an odor??? I imagine a blend of sandalwood and decaying summer sausage. But thats just me. I know plumbers make a LOT of money, but I was not at all exaggerating about my tool skills. I suck. I really do use a screwdriver in place of a saw, or sometimes my car keys, as a saw and a screwdriver as car keys. I am confused about what I am trying to say.

  10. So... should I be alarmed by the fact that this scene is hauntingly similar to about 97% of my therapy sessions? My passion is to "change" lives...

    (Just kidding! Especially if you're interested in getting counseling from me, anyone reading this. TOTAL. JOKE. I never, ever give my clients assignments with screwdrivers or anything. Pinky swear.)

  11. So in essence, it WAS a coupon. I was told to work in IT. Apparently, I don't like people and would fit right in with the rest of the crowd. I almost bit at "swarthy," but I've finally learned. How long did that take?

  12. Gweenbrick, you complete me.

    Well...the part of me that enjoys the thought of a man "the color of swarth" screaming "MONE-KEE!" at a man in his underpants.

    I had no such vocational advice in my school. I wish I had. I'd have been the best plumber ever instead of getting trapped in the hell that is graphic design. I hate phones as well, so I'd just put my wife on the payroll as "receptionist" or something. Heaven knows I'd be making enough.

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