After a year of aimlessness, nearly two of mourning, and seething daily for three because of gross negligence and utter imbecility, the restoration of lucrative, less emotionally burdened life may have begun. Exam results bring on this optimism.

Between crazy events beyond my control and life’s inescapable occurrences, I left my hollowed out Quarropas, New York, home for Las Vegas. Nevada, not New Mexico. I don’t gamble, but I’ve always been willing to take a chance.

Whys and wherefores are threaded throughout Green Venom. Read them. They’re terrific.

About two months ago I finally shook off the lethargy weighing me and started aggressively pushing my resume. Naturally most positions which fit me never gave in to at least cursory responses. On those rare few that did and interviewed, the HR knob seemed intimidated that I possessed a work record longer than he or she had been alive.

The decline of American labor in a nutshell. Dumb young managers who settle for hiring inexperienced employees. What better example of the stupid leading the blind?

A woman from a field beyond my purview phoned out of the blue. Perhaps her employers had widened their search filter into more esoteric categories. Whatever, however, my resume kicked out of the pile. After the briefest of introductory interviews, she plumbed my interest. Of course I was interested! She invited me in for face time.

Curiosity and restlessness more than any hunger drove me. I was tired of being idle. Moreover, they summoned me. Someone read my resume and intuited a possible asset. The allure of being wanted is powerful. Only desire is a stronger attraction. What trumps that is adoration.

I caught a strange break. The interviewer had five years on me, and he was being observed by a much younger man. While we all got along well, enough shared references between the older fellow and I shortened our feeling out process. Our initial face-to-face satisfactorily conducted, we scheduled me meeting his superior on another day.

A younger man, the second nabob queried more thoroughly. Those few times candor would’ve been problematic, I told him what he needed to hear. At the end, he offered me a position. Perhaps also a future.

As I wrote, being wanted is powerful. Despite my apprehensions of assaying a new field, somebody saw something in my record which might further propel the company’s aspirations.

I accepted.

Unfortunately, this new gig isn’t a hired on Friday afternoon and starting on Monday morning kind. There’s a process. Or as anyone else might rightly see them, hurdles. Since this is Nevada, fingerprints must be taken and run through databases. About the only fields which may forego them involve menial labor.

Afterwards came the study courses. Prospects could either join a class or self-study. At this stage of the game, filling a seat in a classroom held zero appeal. All those fidgety people, set times, an instructor wah-wah-wah-ing on like Charlie Brown’s Mrs. Donovan, an avalanche of dull material being spewed, that was hard enough to endure when I was younger and the babes hot. Besides, actual class attendance cost more than self-study.

Unlike my undergraduate grinds, I actually crammed for the exam. Information being online helped immensely. Admittedly, though, there were hours when I wish a handy text available on a bedside table. A nagging 3 or 4 a.m. question is far easier to quell by paging through a book than having to boot up, log in, and scroll before isolating. That said, given the amount needed to digest, it only took three weeks to exhibit confidence to take the test.

Older, knowing my rates of absorption and retention faster over shorter periods of time thanks to 35+ years of working, I only devoted two or three hours a day towards study. Then I beat the practice quizzes and practice exams to death. Loved and ignored all the prompts insisting this area and that required further study. No. Most just required reading the questions and sussing out which answers didn’t belong.

By narrowing choices I increased correct probabilities and strengthened mnemonic attachments. A younger student, one without decades of hurriedly acquiring new skills in order to fulfill new tasks as soon as possible, or better, shave off time on the old, would’ve been performing the bleary-eyed, caffeine jolted, midnight oil slog across endless hours. The scholar’s version of a march across the Mojave.

Dissatisfied with my practice scores because although sufficient to get me over, I wanted better. There was a gap that even if candidates failed, prospective employer discretion sufficed bridging the, oh, inadequacy.

Nepotism for strangers?

Who settles for being deemed adequate? And that only after consultation? Somewhere down the line my bona fides may undergo further scrutiny. Who knows? Our ruling generation has so devalued a man’s word and his hand on it, many likely see the custom as a meaningless gesture. Since this new group extracts deeper comfort from cold numbers than warm individuals, a substantial grade will mollify that part of any inquiry.

Rather than postpone the inevitable I submitted myself to it. Scheduled the test and limned the “hard questions” list into “difficult ones.”

I rolled into the test center. Getting into that room was harder than a visitor entering jail. The proctors were efficient and well-mannered – unlike most TSA minions. They certified “you” were “you.” Certain items were not allowed. Period. No if, ands or buts. No exceptions. No reprieves from the governor.

If the candidate thought the final exam would simply consist of practice quiz and exam questions, he or she must’ve been surprised. Good memory alone would’ve been insufficient.

Instead of offering the familiar in a 52-card pickup method, examiners took the basics and applied the theories behind them into practical matters. So, all the accustomed names, places and situations got swept off the boards. Questions not only asked for answers to be regurgitated, they now needed solving as well.

I loved the switch! It’s a gag I would’ve pulled! Which is why the profession must remain unnamed. Proprietary material. Given my still fluid status, I may or may not be bound by official ethics … yet. But hey, part of the satisfaction behind any achievement is scaling it honestly.

Through the different format I scored an unquestionable passing grade. Afterwards I remembered one pertinent statement from my first face-to-face interviewer: “A lot of this job will require you to bring to bear your life experiences.” Reflecting, numerous questions did indeed ask for answers that might’ve flummoxed someone callow.

The first challenge of this new life has been successful. Why, post-exam, didn’t the Mojave brighten as much as my mood?

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