basic real estate.

i did my first fourteen-hour shift at the school yesterday. i signed up to proctor finals, since i would receive time and a half for any overtime. i reasoned that since i would not be paid for two days due to a lack of vacation time, i might as well sign up for the extra cash. lisa was the first to convince me. "it's so easy," she said, "all you have to do is sit there." the weird thing is, i'm forced to think about how i spent a year struggling to find work, and how there are a lot of unemployed people right now, so i feel compelled to take every chance i get to make an extra buck. if i could sling, then i'd be slingin'.

i got a salad from the sidebar after work. i didn't have much time. i could've gone to subway, but since my apartment is located above a subway, it reeks of subway. if i eat a subway sandwich, also known as a "yum rocket," i just might puke. the sidebar is kind of shitty, but under time constraints, i had no other choice. i could've been less lazy the night before and packed myself a lunch and dinner, but no, i was lazy. i settled for a $5 caesar salad. it wasn't very good, but it did the trick.

i don't like to eat anywhere in the building. i don't know why, but i don't. i could eat at the tables by the sidebar where all the students eat, but i'm not a student, so it would feel weird. i could eat in the staff lounge if i wanted to, but it'd be weird. it'd be a lot of, "so, are you keeping busy these days?" and you can never say no. you have to tell the other person what you've been doing in your department, no matter how boring it is. "i'm compiling post-graduate fellowships because we're looking to implement our own by the end of the year." words like that just leave a bad taste in your mouth.

i ate my caesar salad, and then i went to c-3, where i was supposed to check in to proctor exams. i turned back, though, realizing that caesar salad sauce would make my breath horrible, and i grabbed an altoid. our office keeps a steady supply of altoids because students meet with representatives from law firms, and halitosis, apparently, is a real deal-breaker. so, i popped a mint and went on my way. c-3 was an absolute disaster. there were boxes and papers scattered this way and that. i hadn't seen such a mess since visiting the red cross headquarters post-katrina.

jamie, the exams coordinator, greeted me. "have we ever officially met?" she asked. "i don't think so." we told each other our names. she said that my proctor partner, denise, was already in the classroom because she wanted to get set up right away. i immediately imagined my partner as a slightly overweight woman with power issues. it filled me with a sense of dread. jamie told me some other things, and then said to go next door. as it turned out, denise wasn't overweight, and she didn't engage in power trips. in fact, she was the opposite - waify and unsure about what exactly she was doing.

she told me she was in the college of education, getting her msa or mda or something like that. she said that she had proctored before, but it was a year ago, and she had forgotten everything. "we'll learn together," she said. i'm not gonna learn shit, i thought. i'm gonna do my job and get paid $20 an hour to read kitchen by banana yoshimoto. and yes, her name's really banana. a student came down the steps to ask if we had any earplugs. "i don't know," i said, "i'll check next door." the exam office didn't have earplugs. "you can tell him to check with the library or the bookstore," jamie said. "right," i said.

i read the instructions aloud and then the test started. as i looked the test over myself, i felt really bad for them. i thought about that scene from saved by the bell where rod belding goes, "man, this looks hard," and then he says, "everybody do what i do," and then he holds the paper up in the air, tears it up, and goes, "woo-hoo!" but this mattered. this was a basic real estate exam. the first question started out with bob the buyer and sue the seller and then, somehow, of course, shit got all messed up. the elevated vocabulary and the way certain sentences were phrased was enough to make me unable to follow the story. i couldn't even begin to think about what the answer might be.

at this point, i looked up at all the anxious faces with their blue books, laptops, and scantrons. why would anyone want to be here, doing this, answering hypothetical questions? some people must like it, though. it's like riddles to them. that's what my geometry teacher said about theorems. "think of it as like solving a puzzle, or a detective story." guess what, mr. morton? i fucking hate puzzles and detective stories are shit. i got a c in geometry.

looking the exam over, though, i realized what a crock of shit a liberal arts education truly is. i wouldn't be able to just write about myself, my life experiences, or my relationship with god to get out of this one. i've been out of the game so long that i've forgotten how this world, or at least parts of it, does actually rely on, and function according to some code, some elitist jargon. i belong to the group of unskilled whiners. i can write, but i can't stop the bank from foreclosing on your house. i can play some guitar chords, but i won't know what to do when your heart and liver fails. the bottom line is, even with my education and experience, i wouldn't be able to save anyone.

i hope that it's not about money, status, titles, or upward mobility. i hope that those who like solving puzzles and reading detective stories are constantly keeping watch.

1 comment:

John M said...

it's slang, as in "you should be slangin". five seasons of the wire has taught you so little.