Sunday, April 22, 2012

Wisconsin 101: Is it like this everywhere?

I signed up to take the Office Support Exam, which is required for anyone applying for a clerical or administrative level job with the State of Wisconsin. No, it's not my dream to be a secretary, but an employed secretary is better than an unemployed manager any day. Nine to 5 with dental: that's what I'm looking for now. The corner office is so far from my imagination that I can't even see it with a telescope. A job. That's all I want. A job.

The test is at 5:00 at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a place where parking is very hard to find. Free parking, anyhow. It's always like that around college campuses, isn't it?

The test is at 5. Which is suppertime up here.

So. My big question: How long does the test last? This is important because 1. I need to know how much to feed the meter and 2. I need to know whether to take food. Although I have mostly banished my headaches by cutting caffeine from my diet, I can still get one if my blood sugar gets low enough. That almost never happens because eating is my main hobby, but if I am away from the house, I have to make sure to take provisions.

You would think that I might not be the only person with this question. You would think that information would be provided on the website describing the test or in the email confirmation I got after I signed up for test.

You would be wrong.

So I called.

Ha. Calling the government. That's funny!

I called the number in the email. I got a four-minute recording telling me everything that was already in my email, along with the instruction to write down the address where the test is taking place.

If that is how they have to treat the people taking this test, I am a shoo-in.

Nowhere in the message did it say how long the test lasted. I couldn't zero out.

I went back to the State of Wisconsin website and found another phone number, this one the general number for all civil service exams. Finally got a person. Asked her how long the test lasted.

Person: Two, two and a half hours. [For a CLERICAL exam? I had physics tests that didn't last that long.]

Me: May I make a suggestion? This might be good information to provide on the website or in the email.

Person: That's why we have this number. So you can call and ask questions.

Me: But I had to listen to a long recording at the other number and it didn't tell me what I wanted. Then I had to look for this number. It would be better to have the information in the email.

Person [long pause]: But each test takes a different amount of time.

Me [slowly]: Yes, but each email is customized for the test the person is taking. And each test has its own signup page.

Person: But each test takes a different amount of time.

Me: But the emails are specific to the test.

Person: But each test takes a different amount of time.

Me: [I surrender.]


Joy said...

Always have raisins or a luna bar or something of that nature in your purse. Always. Good luck with the test!

deb said...

If they hired her.......

sounds like you will have absolutely no problem with this test.

Highland Fashionista said...

You had me rolling on the floor with this....especially when you said you called the government. But hey, at least in Wisconsin, you can still call the government....I grew up there and it is one of the things I look forward to doing when I go home. Getting a live human on the phone at places like the DMV. Oh, and they say that chocolate before an exam stimulates the neurotransmitters into making you smarter. Not that you need to be, just sayin...

webb said...

Every state in this lovely union of ours needs employees who can think, as well as answer the phone. Clearly Wisconsin does.

Good luck on the test. Even tho you are sort of starting over, it will get you a foot in the door, and once you win the suggestion contest with your email tip, you will move right up.

Highland and Joy are both right - a chocolate and a Luna in the purse - always! But you know that, don't you?

Class factotum said...

Joy, you are so right. Always have emergency chocolate!

Deb, one really has to wonder, right? If that lady has a job, then why shouldn't I?

Lovely gray-haired fashionista, whereabouts are youse from? And as long as I have you on the line, how does housing work in Scotland anyhow? I have read a few Denise Mina novels where the protagonist wants to move from her apartment so she has to go to the council and ask for a new place? Doesn't anyone own or rent housing there? I googled and I can't figure it out. Advise, please. According to Alexander McCall Smith, property is sold in Scotland. So who buys and who lives in public property? Your hair looks fab.

Webb, I have so, so many ideas about how government could be run better. I'm sure they would love to have me. And yes - not only do I have emergency food in my purse, I also have it in the car.