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:
"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'."
"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.
"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.