Monday, May 15, 2006


As a freelance translator-interpreter, I often find myself interviewing for various bizarre contract-based positions. Last week, I was again the subject of scrutiny when I "auditioned" for a role interpreting for pan-Pacific royalty on an imminent trip to Japan.

The interview bit was routine. We discussed my professional and personal background and made tense small talk about current affairs. They grilled me on what I foresee for my future (money. lots of it.). Someone please tell me how the fuck I'm supposed to know what I'll be doing in 10 years' time when I don't even know what continent I'll be living on next month.

I was keen to leave after our formal conversation of forced smiles and euphemisms. I'd been walking around all day in my (funeral) suit and heels and I could imagine, with great clarity, the relief I would encounter if I could only slip into my usual uniform of cotton pajamas and thick argyle socks - feet propped up, a bowl of chocolate puff cereal in my lap, green tea-scented L'Occitane candle burning fragrantly in the background.

But then they made me take a fucking Common Sense Test, people. For like a fucking hour.

I literally had four separate sheets and 8 sides of information to fill out. Some of it was just filling in my name and personal stats. Fine, although I already gave them a copy of my CV. The remaining 3 sheets were filled with questions expertly designed to indicate your level of common sense; questions such as:

1. There is a 7 year-old girl, whose father is 41. How many years must pass before he is exactly 3 times her age?

2. If it takes A 12 minutes to get to B's house, and it takes B 8 minutes to get to A's house, how many minutes will elapse before A and B meet?

3. When handing somebody a sharp object, point the sharp end away from you. Good Manners or Bad Manners? Circle the correct answer.

I'm not even kidding. There was even one geometry question, in which you had to find out the value of the angle marked x in an accompanying diagram. Because, obviously, those Pacific Islanders are gonna be asking you to measure all sorts of crazy triangles while they're here for their big conference. As far as #3, I shudder to imagine the past experience that prompted the test-writer to include this question on this exam. Must be in response to that thing about the thin line separating geniuses from madmen.


Blogger teahouse said... seems more like a math test to me! Are you sure they weren't testing to make sure you are in fact GOOD AT MATH like the stereotype of Asians dictates??

3:19 AM  
Blogger e! said...

Well, this is the thing... apparently in Japan, common knowledge = calculus. Which means Japan does NOT equal a good place for etta to live.

I must have a largely Swedish brain, since I don't ever remember passing a math class in my life. Perhaps I'll have more luck with furniture design and/or porn.

BTW - I must not have done too badly on that test, since they offered me the gig today...

2:06 AM  

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