I’ve never been very good at waiting. I don’t think — I act. And though such consequences-be-damned impulsiveness is applauded in the likes of Rambo, Thor and anyone from the cast of “Jackass,” for an everyday bald guy taking the Graduate Records Examination, it’s downright dumb.
But after waiting a minute or two, I clicked the big red button flashing on my computer screen, even as the voices in my head told me not to. In fact, I hit it twice, following the second prompt that read, “Are you sure you want to exit the test?” With confidence, I clicked, “Yes.”
And that’s how I made a 0 on the GRE.
All I wanted to do was skip the essay portion of the test. But it turns out that when the GRE asks about exiting the test, they’re talking about quitting the whole freakin’ thing.
I was left staring at a blank screen for what felt like an eternity before raising my hand a second time — only this time, they came right away. To their credit, they didn’t laugh or roll their eyes. Instead, the testing people gave me an 800-number to call before rescheduling.
“This is a new one on us,” said the plump little woman from behind a desk. “Maybe you just weren’t meant to take it today.”
Nope. Much as I’d like to blame divine intervention, truth is stupid stuff like that happens to me all the time simply because I don’t pay attention to what I’m doing. I just merrily bounce through life like Mr. Magoo driving a bumper car.
Sometimes my absent-mindedness is only slightly annoying. Say when I lock my keys in the car with the engine running or miss the same turn four times and end up late for dinner. Other times … it’s downright exhausting, like taking Jellybean to the mall, forgetting where I parked and having to walk around the parking lot in the summer for so long that she falls asleep sunburned on my shoulder.
Sometimes it’s painful, like the time I Gorilla-glued my palm to the mantel over the fireplace, which I then had to take off the wall so that I could get enough leverage to tear my hand free.
Sometimes, it’s dangerous, like when I dropped my Chapstick while driving The Diva to a soccer game. I looked up in time to see us crash into a ditch. The Diva and I were fine.
Sometimes, it affects others, like before Jellybean was able to talk and I’d take her somewhere, My Lovely Wife would always call multiple times to “see how we were doing,” which was a none-too-subtle code for “making sure you didn’t leave our child sitting in the buggy outside of Walmart.” Sure, it’s funny in “Raising Arizona,” but not so much in real life.
Those were just a few examples. And, by the way, asking My Lovely Wife to list some of the more scatterbrained things I’ve done is about as stupid as complaining about a hangnail to the woman who’s had two rather large human beings pulled screaming from her.
So come the first of October, I’ll again attempt to take the GRE. I’d love to say that past failures will have taught me a lesson to stop and think before doing something stupid. But it’s those same past experiences that promise more of the same. I’ve come to learn that there’s always another button saying “Are you sure you want to do this?”
And I always manage to say, “Sure. What’s the worst that can happen?”
Contact Brett Buckner at firstname.lastname@example.org.