Patting Yourself on the Back

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From Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed:

“What these tests tell employers about potential employees is hard to imagine, since the ‘right’ answers should be obvious to anyone who has encountered the principles of hierarchy and subordination.  Do I work well with others?  You bet, but never to the point where I would hesitate to inform on them for the slightest infraction.  Am I capable of independent decision making?  Oh yes, but I know better than to let this capacity interfere with a slavish obedience to orders” (Ehrenreich 59).

With her typical sarcasm, Ehrenreich talks of this employment eligibility tests.  These tests remind me of a survey that we had to take at the end of every school year at my high school.  The questions were laughably ludicrous, for example: Do you belong to a gang?  Does your gang have a name?  How many times have smoked more than a pack of cigarettes per day?  How often do you drink?  How many times in the last month have you felt suicidal?  No one took the test seriously, it was a huge joke.  I also highly doubt that people gave honest answers (even though it was anonymous).  In a way, it is the same type of thing, anyone with any sense knows what the correct answer is.  On the test Ehrenreich took, I think it is more a way for the employer to be sure that the worker is sufficiently accepting of their lot in life.  The employee won’t shake things up, or make them feel bad.  It’s almost like a way to pat themselves on the back in reassurance that their employees are happy and content.

2 Comments

Ahh, tests. Tests are so ridiculous and yet people use them for everything. We took the SAT so we could get into college (even though the results rarely did justice for our abilities), we took tests so that we could pass classes, and they give tests to employees. When is everyone going to learn that tests don't work? In a certain setting, yes, tests can be useful. But like you said, half the time people don't take them seriously and make up answers anyway.

Jeanine O'Neal said:

Nice point Gretta. I think the point of the test was to sift out people mentally incapable of working. Some people do answer truthfully. And think about this... if you do drugs you don't have a brain. I'm sorry, but only an idiot would mess up themselves with drugs. An idiot just might screw up a test like that because he's stupid enough (thankfully because I wouldn't want him serving my food) to say he uses drugs.

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