At least I wasn't naked.

I had to take a four and a half hour test today for my Blackberry Enterprise certification, and it was horrible. Did you ever have that dream where you forgot you had a final exam and when you finally sat down at the desk in the gymnasium and flipped your paper over, you didn't know a single answer? So you sat there and stared at the paper, and all you could hear was everyone around you busily writing? And then, one by one, they stood up and handed in their papers until you were the last one left in the room? No? Well, it was kind of like that.

My test was at 10:30 this morning and I had to be there 15 minutes early to fill out the paper work. This was the second time in a month that I've been to the test center, since I stupidly showed up on the 7th because I had rescheduled the test and not changed it on my calendar.

The girl behind the counter looked at my two forms of ID, then she took my Blackberry away and locked it in the cabinet and for a second I felt very free. No phone, no pager, no e-mail -- just me and the open road. I contemplated making a break for it and just driving until I hit Mexico. We don't need no steenking certifications. But then I remembered that I have a wife and a house and a mortgage and a job in a tough economy in a state where jobs are hard to come by, plus I am a pasty gringo and I probably wouldn't fare well in the tropics. So I stayed.

This testing site is really a training facility -- so they are big on classrooms, and small on exam rooms. Their "test-taking" room is basically a closet with four library-type desks in it, all facing in opposite directions. It's not very comfortable under the best of circumstances, and if the AC isn't working great it's like being trapped in the trunk of a car that's been left in the sun. Of course, today was about 93 degrees, and their AC was wheezing and stumbling like Michael Moore's heart.

When the counter girl sat me down at my desk, there was one other guy already in there. She said "If you need anything, just let me know." I thought about asking her for an appetizer and a drinks menu but she didn't look like she was having a great day. Before I could start my test, I had to click through about six pages of legalese, and then click on a button that said "I agree." Even now I have no real idea what it was that I agreed to. As I type this, someone could be on their way to my house to harvest my left kidney and be fully within their rights to do so.

About a minute after I sat down, I heard something strange. It was sort of like someone singing a single note, about two blocks away.

After about the third time I heard it, I realized it was coming from the other guy in the room with me. Apparently, he had a "thing" where he made this little high-pitched humming noise in his throat every 30 seconds or so. He sounded like a really distant test of The Emergency Broadcast System.

So that was pretty annoying. That and the heat. I tried my best to ignore him and click through my questions. The majority of the test consisted of hypothetical scenarios, and you'd read a page about a fake company, their servers, their network configurations, the number of users and their geographical locations, what systems they currently had, how much money they had to upgrade, and then they'd ask you a dozen questions about what to do and how to do it. The answers were always multiple choice, but not like: What does TLS stand for? (a) Terrific Light Show (b) The Last Starfighter (c) Transport Layer Security. Instead, they were the kind where they tell you to "choose the best three" and there are something like six possibilities and they all sound right. Unfortunately for me, "How the fuck should I know?" never seemed to be one of the choices.

I was about an hour into it, when the counter girl came in with another test-taker. He sat down at the desk next to me and the second the door closed, he immediately let loose with the fart of all farts. I mean, it wasn't a loud whoopee cushion fart -- it was relatively discrete as farts go, but the room was so quiet and the desks are so close that there is nothing even approaching privacy. If some nose-breather had a whistling booger, it would sound like a Lou Marini sax solo in there. The volume of gas in this guy's colon was staggering. It sounded like a tire losing air. It was fully 5 seconds long, and I feared for all our lives.

So I'm in an 8x8 room with a human teapot and someone who smells like he just shit his pants, and I'm only on question 30 out of 160. Things were going well.

I started breathing through my mouth and reading (and guessing answers) faster. I also found the one movement that made my chair squeak slightly, and I kept doing it over and over. So sue me -- I'm a little passive-aggressive.

After three hours of this, I was done, in more ways than one. I thought about using the last hour to go over the answers I hadn't been sure about, but then I realized there were very few answers that I actually had been sure about, so I would probably just be wasting even more of my time. Plus, I figured that if I stayed between EBS and IBS for much longer, I'd snap. As it was, I figured there was already a 75% chance that I'd have to burn my clothes.

At least the part of the nightmare about being the last one to leave didn't come true. Fart boy and the human tea kettle were still there when I left, and for all I know they still are.

I have no idea how I did, but I'm pretty confident I failed miserably. I was nowhere near prepared, and it was a beta test, so the good thing was I didn't have to pay for it. I'll get to take it again when it's an official test, and hopefully I'll have better luck in all respects.

Lastly, it seems I'm all about pimpin' my blog this week. I just found out that my Blogger friend Averyl has entered the Mad Men contest! If you have a second to vote for her, it's a one-click thing and the link is here. Thanks!


  1. OMG! Laughing so hard i have tears in my eyes! and i can't stop laughing! not to worry, that's fairly normal when i read your blog!


  2. Damn. That brought back memories of a three-day bar exam I once took. Seating was assigned, two to a table, sitting kitty-corner to each other. My tablemate had a nasty habit of grunting every two or three minutes and, before every test segment, he cracked his knuckles.

    I went to a gun shop before the second day and bought a really good pair of ear muffs. And yes, I really thought hard about buying a .38 instead and just popping the guy in front of a roomful of a thousand or so wannabe lawyers.

    But I didn't.

    And the goddamned proctors of course had to make sure that the ear muffs weren't headphones to receive answers from Jupiter or some place. How the Jovian cheaters were supposed to know what the question I had to answer was never explained to me (and I did ask).

  3. Under the stinkumstances, I'd say you did a remarkable job.

  4. wait, you didn't need to take the test because it was a beta test? And you stayed through all that?! You're a bigger man than you give yourself credit for. Or just more masochistic!

  5. "Plus, I figured that if I stayed between EBS and IBS for much longer, I'd snap."
    JV, you are a GENIUS! I laughed so hard at this I almost farted, but I thought that would be disrespectful.

    I once took an Organic Chemistry final right across a 2-foot-wide aisle from a guy spitting tobacco juice into a Mountain Dew can every 3 minutes. I wanted to crush that can against his little pin head. He probably did better on that test than I did.

  6. I think EBS & IBS are part of the test...typical clientele, future team members?
    None of your test answers were considered, only your passive aggressive response was recorded.
    Bet you wish you were in Mexico now!

  7. "Lou Marini sax solo" Hahahahaha! Glad you at least had something to laugh about.

  8. Kirly, thanks.

    Comrade, man I so wish I had the ear muffs. How'd you do on the bar?

    Ed, I guessed a LOT.

    Reiven, it was a beta, but I still had to take it. If I pass, it counts. And our company pays RIM a buttload of money every year and the beta tests are a part of that contract - and there are only so many slots. I feel bad having probably wasted one.

    Carlo, that sounds nasty and disgusting. The OC, not the tobacco juice.

    Spigot, I never thought of that. I should have looked for the two-way mirror.

    KC, the whole thing was laughable. I really didn't want to go back to work after that.

  9. Anonymous5:45 AM

    Oh you sound like me..I would have been working that chair..this is friggin hilarious...And how could Fart boy not smell himself..I would have walked around the 8x8 cell to try to circulate..sumtin..
    Hilarious, Johnny!!

  10. Averyl6:00 AM

    Substitute your small room for a foyer or garage, and that is me standing in line with the people who go to some of the estate sales in my town! Just another case for plastic bubble living. For them.

    Thank you for plugging me!

  11. I'm glad they took your camera also. The nekkid photo of fart-boy......we'd be blind for life.

  12. Sounds like when I took the exam for my nursing license, with the 'choose the best answer, but they're ALL RIGHT, only ones best.' F that. It was in a little tiny room that had 5 computers/seats for people and some jackass was tapping his pen for his math scrap paper the whole time. And this was in April and the room was already 400 degrees. I'm surprised they didn't offer you eat plugs, and at least it was free.. a re-take is no big deal.

  13. Those little closet test rooms do suck - that reminds me, I need to schedule my CCNA exam. Great, now I'm gonna walk into the test center giggling...

    Never had to deal with IBS from a fellow test-taker, but I did take one exam in the same room with an Earth-Boy type that smelled of decaying garbage and patchouli. The oscillating fan they had in the closet ('cuz their A/C was on the fritz, too) only served to circulate the melange of olfactory delights.

    Thanks for dredging that memory up...

    Good stuff, JV.

  14. Perhaps that was part of the test...seeing how well you could answer questions about the blackberry under adverse conditions. Kind of like Navy SEAL training. For IT guys.

  15. If you had stuck around for the last hour you would've been there for the gum snapper/nervous sniffer coming in and killing the other two guys for ya and leaving a cold beer on your desk and a bag of pretzels.


  16. i work in a library and used to share workspace with a rather farty coworker. she has her own office to stink up now, and i get to share workspace with some sweet smellin' eyecandy. i'd say that's a win-win all around.

    i still panic a little when said coworker cuts one in public. i'm always afraid they'll think it was me!

  17. Johnny, I passed.

    There was a girl there who was getting married two days after the exam in a formal wedding with all of the hoopla and trimmings. I asked her if she were certifiably insane or what. She signed and said that she probably was nuts.

    (I don't know if Bridal Girl or the Grunter passed or failed.)

  18. Another great one, thank you.

  19. Anonymous6:30 PM

    JV, I'm the anon from your post before the Rush concert that mentioned it was great (and it was indeed), but, so is this post. Holy cripes, I almost had beer coming out my nose, but I finished it before I sat down. Good thing I didn't refill (that is next on the daily agenda). Your "left kidney" comment had me and stitches, and it went on from there. Great post. I may have to register with blogger so you can tell me to shut up when I post. Thanks!!

  20. Anonymous10:40 PM

    Hilarious, as usual. It's always a good day when I see you have a new post.
    You should warn your wife about the chair clicking. My father-in-law used to do that when he was irritated with my mother-in-law. He would never challenge her - just click....click...click....in his chair.

  21. "Fart boy and the human tea kettle" would be a great name for a band. Steven King-Richard Bachman. Dave Barry-Johnny Virgil.

    just sayin'

    keyboards and monitor cleanings UOMe

  22. When I took my SAT back in the day, it was given in a room at a local high school that apparently was used for a science class the rest of the time. It had an actual skeleton hanging in the front of the room. I'll never forget that...

  23. About that fart... sorry.

    I mentioned you on my blog today, as a way of giving thanks for your earlier mention of me on yours.

  24. Lynn, I think he was as surprised as the rest of us. Probably just trying not to let loose in front of the counter girl.

    Erica, yes, it was free, kind of. It still costs the company, just not me. I don't have to pass and then get reimbursed, in other words.

    Ray. None of us was naked. That would have been...uncomfortable. More so.

    Scott, I'd almost rather deal with a farter. BO doesn't dissipate. It sticks like a film.

    Brutalism, at least they didn't set up a speaker with someone yelling random numbers.

    Fireant, I KNEW I should have stuck around for the blood bath that was the only conceivable outcome of this situation.

    Mary, why warn her and take away one of the more effective weapons of annoyance? Never.

    GP, you are too kind. That's some mighty tall company. I would consider myself lucky to just have a beer and a conversation with either of those guys.

    1389, I remember a similar situation in college and all you could hear were the lab rats scratching around.

    BG - dude. Less fiber.

  25. what is up with the farting? That's insanely rude.

  26. Thank God I was on my lunch hour when I read this (at my desk, of course). The human teakettle - I'm dying laughing over here..

  27. Tiff, I guess when the gas pressure exceeds the valve rating, you have no other choice.

  28. Anonymous7:56 PM

    Oh good God. I managed not to laugh out loud through the entire post and comments until I got to the gas pressure exceeding the valve rating. Then I totally lost it and am crying that was classic.

  29. Thank you! I'm wiping tears from eyes and laughing while the dogs give me funny looks. Trapped between EBS and IBS...priceless.

  30. Oh, God! This sounds like an absolute nightmare! Moments (hours?) like this are what make some of us cross that fine line into insanity.

    I honestly don't think I could've done it.

    If you do have to go back, bring a doctor's note for some obscure condition that requires a BIG FAN...then aim it at your face. Kill two birds w/one stone...white noise for 'the hummers' and air moving away from you for 'all general body odors'.

    Other than that, you're on your own, bud.

  31. Great post. I had a SQL Server test like that one time. The important point here is that I had never even seen SQL Server. I went all keyword-driven, and actually passed. So maybe you did better than you think.

  32. wiredoxiemom6:56 PM

    Too funny - I am from Texas, right next door to Mexico and the "We don't need no steenking certifications" put me on the floor.

    My worst test taking experience - guy next to me (in a room so quiet, it made a funeral home seem like a jazz fest) kept sipping his drink......then I realized he was spitting his tobacco juice into the soda can....GROSS!! It was a two hour essay test....

    Ah, Texas and our "good ole boys".
    Think I will get in my car and keep on driving - HA!

  33. Wow! That *was* special.

    I always seem to get next to a "tapper". They tap their pen or their foot or something CON.STANT.LY!


  34. This made me laugh and laugh!!!! Reminds me of when I took the damn series 7 (sec) test. UGH!! But at least with those securities tests you know your results before you leave. I chose to sit with the eraser of my pencil dug into my right eye while I weaved back and forth like an autistic person whilst I waited for the result to pop up on the moniter. So fun!!! not!!!!!

  35. Anonymous5:16 PM

    OK, I'll ask... What do IBS and EBS stand for?

  36. Anon -- Emergency Broadcasting System and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.