: can you see the flames from there? :

Last Friday I took a clerical test. A temp agency had unearthed an old online résumé and was eager to evaluate my skills. See if I was worthy of the clerical title.

Never one to pass up an opportunity for failure, I agreed. I even went so far as to put on a bra and decent clothes. It’s important to look your best during natural disasters. The media typically show up to record the devastation and ask dumb questions. I expect them — we’re on a first name basis. I rarely disappoint.

fire alarm

This time I didn’t just go down in flames, it was a flipping conflagration. I failed that thing like a champ, ladies and gentlemen, with flying colors. It’s possible I set a new record for lowest score in history. Their minimum requirement for alphanumeric data entry is 6,000 keystrokes per hour. pffft, wankers. I breezed in with a cool 782.

The minimum typing requirement is 35/wpm. Me? 29/wpm. I tested as a Beginner in Excel and, how’d this happen?, Proficient in Word. To her everlasting credit and my great relief, the ‘staffing specialist’ thought my test results were as hilarious as I did. I’m not proud, I realize I have no skills and I don’t pretend otherwise. I wouldn’t know a spreadsheet from a racing form.

I knew there’d be a typing test, of course, but Excel? No. Data entry? No. I’m not 100% certain I even know what a real, bona fide clerical job entails. I thought filing might be involved and I’m familiar with the alphabet, so that’s good. Running errands, I’m capable there. Making coffee, got that covered. But none of those were part of the test.

Perhaps worst of all, though, I was forced to use a PC. What is with those keyboards? The keys are so goddam awkward, tall and tetchy and incredibly noisy. If you dare to look at them funny, they’ll make you pay. They’ll close what you’re working on and send you on a one-way journey into darkness. I’d rather use a quill and inkwell than a PC keyboard. Those things are horrid. Seriously horrid.

I’m not making excuses, I’ll be the first to admit I’m no prize. And if they’d asked I would’ve told them: I am not marketable. I will not be a good reflection on your staffing business. Saved us both a lot of time and trouble and embarrassment. But people have to learn these things for themselves, I guess. And we got a good laugh out of it, so no harm done.


Okay, then, off to more and bigger disasters. Good day.

Copyright © 2015 Publikworks

4 responses to “: can you see the flames from there? :”

  1. Tears running down my face and I was laughing down the inside of my thigh. Really? Data Entry? Who actually does that?

    Now I admit to using a keyboard, one of those special ones, those ergonomic ones. I love it and it makes my world easier. Given the work I do (not clerical) I need to know how to type and use a spreadsheet (Excel). I am expert at both.

    But clerical? Data Entry? Who does this?

    This was fabulous, thank you for this one.


    1. My pleasure. Sort of. In a humiliating, oh-my-god-that-low? kind of way. You’re lucky, you have skills.


  2. 29 wpm? Are you making that up? Clerical work sucks anyway.


    1. I’m not, I swear. Last time I took a typing test, though, I was at a lofty 40/wpm. What has happened? And it does suck — most jobs do. But you’ve gotta have one. Or two.


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