I have just arrived home from the gmat test center...3.5 hours after my scheduled test time. No, no, no I do not have a score to report. Here is my tale:
My adventure begins one month ago when I caved to my ego and decided to schedule another GMAT test date. I logged onto the appropriate website and looked at the first available option. To my surprise, there was a test center available at the Air Force Base (previously, I had used what I thought was the one and only available test center on Guam). I was happy to see that the test center on the Air Force Base offered an afternoon test start time. I wanted to try the afternoon GMAT because I had taken the morning time slot in my previous attempts. With a flurry of clicks, I had my test date...June 4th, 2010 at 1300 in the UMUC Classroom Lab, Andersen Air Force Base. Be sure to arrive 30 minutes early. Your test will be canceled if you arrive more than 15 minutes late.
-Fast forward to the test day-
Like any excited GMAT test taker, I arrived at Andersen Air Force Base about 45 minutes early. I took that online advice seriously! I parked the car outside the UMUC (University of Maryland University College) office space and headed up the stairs. I was greeted by two cheerful faces and was promptly asked if they could help me with anything.
"I'm here to take the GMAT."
"The GMAT?" the second receptionist answered, as her smile slid lower.
"Yeah, I have an appointment scheduled for 1300." With this announcement, the supervisor emerged from her office. She was a middle aged woman named Pam. She wore a version of a women's pant suit that didn't quite fit right all around.
"Sarah, give Terry a call and see if he knows about that. I think he just left to go to lunch," Pam said before vanishing back into her office.
Sarah promptly phoned Terry, who was in line at the Subway.
"Terry, we have a gentleman here who is supposed to take the GMAT at one."
I could only hear unrecognizable protests on the other side of the phone.
"Well, she didn't come into work today. I know. I know you aren't. Well, you should come back. No, I don't want anything. Hold on, I'll ask...Eric, do you want Terry's history book?"
"Yeah, I'll take it," said the second smiling face. Eric was a massive, bald, black man who had been eating wild berry Skittles from the moment I walked in the door.
"He says he'll take it. Alright, see you soon." Sarah quietly got up, moved toward the woman in the pant suit's door, and gently knocked.
"Sarah? What is it?" was all I heard before Sarah closed the door.
Uneasy but undeterred, I refocused the diagram of an analysis of an argument essay that I would soon being writing.
"In conclusion, the author's illogical argument is based on unsupported premises and unsubstantiated assumptions that render the conclusion invalid. If the author truly wishes to change the reader's mind on the issue, he would have to largely restructure the argument, fix his flaws in logic, explain his reasoning, and provide evidentiary support." Clearly, I was memorizing an outline that worked for any possible question that could be asked. Nobody ACTUALLY writes like that. Do they? Whatever.
Sarah reappeared and smiled as she walked toward me.
"Terry's headed back in. He didn't know you had an appointment but he should be able to set you up," she said in a tone that I would soon realize actually meant the complete opposite of what would happen.
As Sarah headed back to her desk, Eric's comment caught my attention "...in the Maldives. You know where the Maldives is?" he boomed to his companion seated one seat away from him. "Small bunch of islands in the Indian Ocean. Yeah, India's here and the Maldives is here," he gesticulated.
"Never been there," screamed back his buddy. "I've been to Osaka for the ice carving, Kyoto for the cherry blossoms, Indonesia, Thailand, P.I., Fiji..."
"American Samoa," interrupted Eric. "I went to China, Hong Kong..."
As Eric and the other UMUC student continued to shout each other down about all the places they had traveled in the last two years, I realized that I needed some peace and quiet.
After 15 minutes of pacing back in forth in the parking lot reciting my over-fluffed essay response, I glanced at my watch. 1240. No problem. I can take the test whenever. My afternoon is wide open. As I was calming myself down, Pam walked down the steps to inform me that Terry was not trained to proctor the GMAT, but she assured me that she had called a woman from the Navy Base who would make the 45 minute drive the Andersen and proctor the exam for me.
"I called her at home and she is on the way. Our girl, Roshonda, who normally proctors these exams has already left for the day," she explains.
When I walked back into the office, I realized that another student had shown up. She too was scheduled to take the GMAT. She wore the rank of an E-4, a Senior Airman. Eric had already lured her into his conversation.
"Oh yeah, I LOVE Australia. Been there 4 times. Dove the Barrier Reef," he boasted between handfuls of Skittles.
I sat back down as far away from the shouting match as I could and starred at the floor. This is not going to end well.
30 minutes passed before the nervous Senior Airman was able to pry herself away from Eric and his unending supply of Skittles.
"You're taking the GMAT too?" she asked.
"Yeah...hopefully" I said.
"Have you ever taken it before? What's it like?"
"It's not too bad. Have you taken those practice tests that mba.com sends out when you register for the test?" I asked, wondering why she would be taking the GMAT in the first place.
"Yeah," she answered in that tone that Sarah had used when I first arrived at the office. "I am trying to get into a Medical assistant program with the Air Force and they require you to take the GMAT or the GRE."
"Oh, so you aren't trying to go to business school?"
"No way. I just have to get a 400 on the GMAT and I can get into the program. I haven't even taken the SAT."
"Yikes, that's crazy. Why would they make you take the GMAT for that program?" I asked.
"I know, right? I don't care though. I just need to get a 401, and I'll be done with it." (readers note: the GMAT is only scored in increments of 10)
About this time, Pam and Sarah float past us mumbling something about Burger King.
Pam, Sarah and Terry come bounding into the office. Pam is cradling an overstuffed brown bag with her right arm and a King sized soda, Diet no doubt, in her left. Grease marks streak up and down the left side of the bag.
"Lara isn't here yet? She said she was leaving her house when I called her. I was expecting her to be here by now. I am so sorry, you two," she said, slightly embarrassed. "I'll go call her right now." Pam hustled into her cave and shut the door. Terry plops down at his desk, rubbing his skinny-guy fat belly. Typical tattoos cover his left arm. You know the typical ones. Just under the barbwire tattoo around his bicep he had a naked mermaid, a sun around his elbow, some Chinese characters on the inside of his wrist, and some mixture of underwater scenes with clouds and flames down his forearm. Terry clearly has a problem working for Pam. His artsy, coke bottle glasses and uppity attitude give the impression that he thinks himself an artist despite his lack of originality.
The entire office stands up and begins shuffling around in an attempt to look helpful. Pam lumbers out of her office. I can see the grease reflecting off her finger tips. Eric bellows, "Good luck!" as the Senior Airman and I are ushered away to the computer classroom.
Lara and Terry lead us to the computer lab. Once inside, there was clearly a problem.
"What's the test center ID?" said Lara as she saddled up the computer mainframe.
"Uhhh, I have no idea," Terry yawned.
"Do you know the ATC number?"
"This system is completely different than the one at Navy. Oh man, I wish I was...I mean...if I was there...Do you have Roshonda's number?" Lara asked.
"Yeah, we've been calling her for the last three hours, but she resigned this morning."
"Can we call the company that administers the test?" I interrupted. "Maybe they can help."
"I have no idea what that number is." Of course you don't, Terry. "I had no idea you guys were even coming in today. They called me when I was in line at Subway." Great, Terry.
Senior Airman can't take it anymore. She's freaking out.
"Can I talk to the supervisor? I don't think I can take the test anymore. I mean, this is crazy. We have been waiting here for two and a half hours. I have a flight to Japan tomorrow morning," she said, looking to me for moral support.
Terry sensed that this was his opportunity to get out of work. "I totally understand, this is awful. You guys shouldn't have to deal with this. I can't even imagine how you could take this test after all this."
Terry led the Senior Airman outside and down the hallway to talk to Pam.
By this time, Lara had gotten some computer specialist in Japan to hack into the computer and he was controlling the entire process. The mouse was flitting around the screen and command screens were up and running, Matrix style. The mysterious computer guru in Japan was able to talk to Lara through a text box located in the upper right hand corner of the screen.
Terry walked back into the computer lab. "She's getting everything taken care of. Gonna reschedule," he said, with a glance my way.
Lara piped in, "The administrator says that he needs to create a new user name and password for me and it might take 30 more minutes. I mean, if this was the Navy...this is just crazy...so...do you think you still want to wait?" she asked.
Terry and Lara stared at me like two Chihuahuas begging for a treat.
I thought for half a second. I am taking this thing. You guys wanna to waste my time, I'll waste yours.
I can't stand Terry and Lara's incessant off handed comments that are geared toward making me give up. It's a test of wills now. I am not quitting this one. I head down to the car and call Kate.
"Don't worry, I haven't even started the exam yet."
"What the hell?" she says, TV blaring in the background.
I proceed to give her an expletive filled rundown of the days events.
"Sorry, I hope you do alright."
"I'm going to do great because I am so pissed."
"Well, good luck," Kate says.
"Don't need luck. I am just going to go crush this stupid test and be done with it."
"Ok, break a leg."
"No breaking legs. Just going to do well."
"Fine, call me when you're done," she laughs.
Lara and Terry have come up with their version of Check Mate.
"I'll let you read the whole conversation, the administrator says I have to file an incident report..."
"And that could take, like two hours," interrupts Terry, too giddy to contain himself.
"I mean...I just...if we were at the Navy base, it would be easy. This is just so diff.."
"I am so sorry for this, man. I know this is just crazy. What a waste of an afternoon."
Terry, I will kill you.
I have given in. Lara and Terry are escorting me back toward Pam's office. I envision them slapping air high-fives over my shoulder or doing some retarded looking dance like the mashed potato or the "Carlton" from the Fresh Prince of Belaire. I loathe them. I loathe Eric and his addiction to berry Skittles. And I loathe Pam. I loathe her for her complete professional incompetence. For that awkward pant suit. For her office that doubles as her hibernation den. For that nearly hour long lunch break and for that sack of greasy french fries. But mostly I loathe myself. I loathe myself for ever thinking that it was a good idea to schedule my GMAT on a military installation. I loathe myself for trusting that they COULD ACTUALLY HANDLE SUCH AN IMPORTANT RESPONSIBILITY. After all my experience...what was I thinking???!?!??!?!?!?!!!?!?!?!?!
I reschedule on Monday.