I'm not sure how many people have been applying to get jobs these days, but let me

warn you, that if you're middle aged or older, there are a few surprises out there. You

will not only find yourself over qualified for most of these job, you will also find that you

are also under qualified. For one thing, at most of the chain and big box stores you

can't even go in and ask for a job. Everything is online now at Corporate Headquarters.

So, OK, what's the big deal about that? Go and apply and see how easy it is to blast

through the latest job application roadblocks. It all starts out innocent enough at first.

You fill out your job history....maybe add a little fluff and padding to your resume. It's after

that, after you've filled out the normal job form, things get more complicated. You will

find that now you have to do about a 20 minute personality test. Most of the questions

are different varieties of:

If you saw a fellow employee stealing something and then burning down the store

would you:

1. Report the incident to your manager?

2. Steal something for yourself before everything goes up in flames?

3. Get the hell out of there, run home and fill out some new job applications?

You'll also get things like: Do you consider yourself a Leader or a Follower. Careful,

this can be a trick question. Do they want to know if you'll be a smart, innovative employee

or, do they want you submissive to your managerial overlord. I'm not really sure

what the personality test is going to show. I mean, if stealing or arson or being a psycho-

killer is really your occupation of choice, wouldn't it be really easy to bullshit your

way through these questions?

OK, you've gotten through the personality part and now is where it gets really frightening.

Guess what, now you're getting a Math and English Comp test. Before you grab

your calculators, you will find that you are being given those weird math questions they

use to give you in high school and on your SAT's. It's not 101 x 3 =303. No, its more

like those dreaded:

If a train leaves a station at such or such an hour, going so many miles an hour and

is taken over by terrorists in Ohio, how many hours will it take the train to reach

New York City?

What! You're just applying to sell cat food at Petco or something. Anyone (except maybe

accountants and rocket scientist) who have been a few years out of high school, let

alone, years out of high school, doesn't remember or even care to remember the little

math tricks you use to answer these questions. No wonder everyone working in these

stores all seem to be in high school. They all seem nice, non-sociopathic people, so I

guess the personality test worked out for them. The English Comp sort of goes like this:

If you are getting a bad sinking feeling while taking this test, is it called:

A. An Anxiety Attack?

B. A Metaphysical Crises?

C. The horrible realization that these days you can't even get the crappy after school

job you had in high school?

D. All the above?

I got an e-mail that REI is doing some hiring. I want to apply for one of these job, but I'm

also almost too frightened. I mean, what will the personality test be like?

When a customer approaches you do you:

1. Attend happily to their needs?

2. Ignore them?

3. Laugh at them because they never mountain biked the entire spine of The Sangre

de Cristo Mountains?

And the Math test!

How long, in days and miles will it take you to die from high-altitude cerebral edema

or hypothermia while climbing Mt. Everest? Keep in mind this also includes the time

the train got into the station in Katmandu or wherever the hell you start out towards

Everest. Also, it should all be in kilometers.

So, OK, you're doomed! There is no form of elfin magic that can save

Jill Karla Schwarz is a graphic designer and illustrator. An ex-Jersey Girl, Jill has lived in Santa Fe for 22 years.