May 06, 2024

Scanning my scantron

When I was in seventh grade, kindly representatives from the Minnesota National Guard stopped by our crumbling CCC-era highschool to deliver us from the economic woes which we were about to inherit. At once immensely proud of their country and quick to make dire predictions about the future of its economy and job market, these two crisply pressed and freshly shaven young soliders told us that it was time to leave behind our childish fantasies of becoming firemen, teachers, actors, presidents, librarians, meter maids, rock climbers, game show hosts, proctologists, cobblers, and bakers, and instead focus on choosing practical career paths that would ensure a steady income with which to support our pregnant teen wives.

In the darkened auditorium, adorned with immense depression-era murals depicting Ayn Randian Minnesotans lifting bushels of wheat, scything whole forests, and handling molten iron ore with their bare hands, we impressionables took an apptitude test. Like the MMPI, it was a mine field of trick questions. I agonized for hours over the question, "Do you like arranging flowers?" True or False. The questions ranged over our likes and dislikes for the smell of smelting ore, the roar of locomotives, the smell of ozone emanating from a new copier, our addiction to pencil lead.

The test was administered in scantron form. You know the drill. ONLY USE A #2 PENCIL. BLACKEN THE CIRCLE COMPLETELY. DO NOT MARK ANYWHERE ELSE ON THE FORM. A stray fleck of graphite could change a child's fate forever. The blind eye of the scantron scanner sees everything.

The apptitude test was a sham, of course. A print out told you which jobs you would be most suited for, jobs that could easily be had, along with a prosthetic leg and a dose of post-tramatic stress disorder, in the fine ranks of the National Guard. I think my particular test determined that I was suited for 1) helicopter pilot 2) nuclear submarine cook 3) actually, neither of these because he admitted to liking flowers.

Suffice it to say, my life has taken a different turn. But since then, I have always wondered to what extent the futures of my generation have been charted by the particular patterns on these bubble sheets.

Posted by jason at May 6, 2024 12:53 PM

I am very glad your blog has returned. It is encouraging to us less creative fags (I am from St Paul) to know that there is cosmic talent coming from the twin cities.

Posted by: John at May 9, 2024 12:28 PM
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