I was jogging around my neighborhood earlier today, when I came upon a house that caused me to stop. The house itself wasn’t anything special, it looked like any other house on the block. If someone else had come upon it while jogging, they would have undoubtedly kept right on going without giving it a single thought.
But not me. For when I saw this house, it made me think of the number four. Because that was the number of people that lived there. Three males, one female. Two adults, two children.
I knew this because, about a year ago, I was the census taker of that house. Now most census takers probably couldn’t remember the details of one single house a year after the fact because they visit so many different residencies during their census careers. But not me. I only did one house. Just one. And that very may well give me the record for the shortest-lived career as a census taker.
How did I accomplish such an impressive feat, you ask?
Well, the thing about working for the census is that before you actually get the job you must first complete two weeks of training.
I know, I know. I thought that sounded ridiculous the first time I heard it too. Two weeks? To learn how to ask questions and write them down? Give me a break! Didn’t the government know that I graduated college and was quite capable of being an awesome and famous guy? Apparently not.
Anyways, at the end of the training you have to take a test on the material that was covered. If you didn’t pass you didn’t get the job. I was hardly worried though. Not only had we gone over the material for two looooong weeks, but it was also an open book test. Meaning that during the test we could find the answers in the text book (it was really more of a pamphlet) if need be. I remember looking around the classroom and wondering which person was stupid enough to fail such an easy open book test.
The day before the test, the instructor took us out for on the job training. That was when I went to that house and filled out my one and only completed census form. At that time I remember thinking I was a natural.
The next day we took the test. Twenty minutes after we had all finished, the instructor called me over to her desk. I remember the instructor being a big, and rather unhappy, woman with a sourpuss face. And I remember thinking as I walked to her desk that her face seemed even more sourpussed than usual.
“I’m afraid, Randy, you will not be moving on with us.” She said matter-of-factly.
For just a quick second, I thought she was saying I had done so well that I was now going to be promoted to super special census taker, assuming there was such a thing. But then I realized that probably wasn't the case.
“I don’t understand.”
“You failed the test.”
Those words hit me like a hammer. I felt like I had just gone into shock.
“But it was an open book test.”
“Yes it was.”
“Which means the answers are available to us.”
“Yes they are.”
“So what do you mean I failed.”
She slowed her voice to a crawl as she answered my last question. “I. Mean. You. Didn’t. Answer. Enough. Questions. Right.”
“Oh…” I searched for more words, but I had nothing. Everything I had once known about myself was now a lie. I wasn’t awesome or soon-to-be-famous. I wasn’t even a competent thinker, or an average human of reasonable intelligence, I was some sort of monkey clown who was lucky if he got through the day without forgetting how to breath. I could see that the instructor was thinking the same thing as she stared at me with her dead government eyes.
It has been a long time since I had thought about that day, but as I stood in front of that house, wearing my sweaty shorts and stinky running shoes, it all came rushing back to me. And once the embarrassment passed, another thought occurred to me. It was the same thought I had a year ago when I was walking back home after I had failed the unfailable test, and that thought was this: Man, I have got to make this writing thing work, cause clearly I am too much of a turd to do anything else.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my way of introducing you back to the bearded boy’s blog. I know it’s been a long time coming, and I know promises were made that were not kept. But the good news is, I have plenty of more promises to make that may or may not be kept! Woo hoo! Seriously though, I would like to give weekly updates to this blog, and I will do my damnedest to see that I live up to that requirement.
Also, on a more positive, and less embarrassing note, I have an article published in the current issue of Maxim magazine. It’s out in stands now, and you should get it while the gettins good!
Until next week, I wish you all the best, and I hope you still love me.
The Boy with a Beard