This Is Only a Test

About a week ago, I went to a testing center to take a certification exam and from start to finish it was a surreal experience.
Mercury’s Retrograde ended a few days earlier so it’s possible this was some of its random after-effects. I’m willing to chalk it up to astrological disturbances because I’m not comfortable considering this to be normal.
In fact, while I have never purchased a firearm of any kind I feel confident that this testing process was much more stringent.

I should have known things were going to be unusual when my instructions were to show up 30 minutes early. I thought, how much time can it take to check in for an exam?
Little did I know that the testing center also must secretly house plutonium, the Akashic Records, and nuclear weapons launch codes.

That’s the only thing that can explain this level of security for a multiple choice, computerized exam.
I arrived my obligatory 30 minutes early because, on occasion, I am a rule-follower.
As soon as I step into the office, the chill of bot-like energy was apparent. There were two lines running for the testing rooms on opposite sides of the office and there is an odd hush. The receptionist repeats the same instructions to each test-taker in a rote, monotone way.
I show my ID and my testing permit and she gives me a locker for my purse, jacket and watch. I then go to stand in my assigned line.
This is when things get way off the rails.

Soon I see test-takers being asked to pull up pant legs, pull out pockets, have a metal detector passed over their entire body, arms sleeves pulled up to the elbows and hair bands taken out of pony tails. But wait, we aren’t done yet. Even though we all show a photo ID, photos are taken of us as well. In the background, the constant scanning of the testing room is being shown on surveillance monitors.
I was stunned. I realize cheating is a problem but clearly I had no idea.
I casually say to the woman behind me in line “Doesn’t this seem excessive?”
Too late, I realize from her response that she’s already been drinking the Kool-Aid and is 100% OK with this level of search to take an exam.

Finally, I get into the testing room and the process is tedious. Once I get through the first module I forgo the break and power through the second set of 75 questions.
Then, upon leaving The Matrix, it’s made clear that the proctor would’ve preferred I’d taken my optional break and they like it when you follow the rules. At this point, I start to question if they’ll let me leave — ever.
I said I opted to continue on as offered by the exam prompts.

Clearly, the proctor is peeved but I’m allowed to sign out and given my notarized exam completion form.
I won’t hear for 12 plus weeks if I passed the exam but I hope I don’t ever have to enter the maximum security prison that is the testing center again. And of course, I hope all the world’s highest guarded secrets remain safe on site as well.

Sunshine & Sarcasm,
Lowi & G

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