Tuesday, 21-Apr-98 01:08:59
L A S T W O R D :
Paul McDermott discovers potholes are not the only obstacles on the streets of Sydney
Why me? Out of a street-load of potential failures, why do they always pounce on me? What am I doing that attracts their attention? Is it something in my manner? Am I the only member of the herd with a limp? Is there blood on my flank? I'm a magnet for anyone with a clipboard and a questionnaire. They'll cross the street to stop me. "Hello sir, would you like to answer a few questions?"
This exchange must happen to everyone, but it seems to happen a lot more to me. It always occurs on a busy street corner when I'm trying to get somewhere in a hurry. An earnest stranger, with the conviction of the converted, blocks my way. "Just a few questions, it won't take a second." A multiple-choice minefield to prove, scientifically, that I'm an abject failure. It only takes a few minutes and in those few minutes I'm transformed from a retiring, yet confident, individual into a self-centred egomaniac out of touch with reality. I don't feel any different, but my new friend assures me it's all there in the way I've answered the questions. The form confirms it, my life's a crock. "It's that bad huh? What can I do?"
Fear not, hope is at hand. I can reach my full potential, become a better person, find untold wealth, be attractive to the opposite sex and live forever - if I answer a few more questions. All I have to do is follow the Street Interrogator (SI) up the stairs and into a grey office. It's of concern that the good folk asking the questions always seem more in need of guidance than anyone they stop. If this person has fond their "full potential" why isn't there any physical evidence? Why are they dribbling out of both sides of their mouths at once? And if this is an improvement, what were they like before? It's wrong to judge a book by it's cover - but these are people we are talking about. Grey garbadine shorts, white socks pulled up to the knees, greasy hair plastered flat on one side of his balding pate: and he's asking me if I need help? What about the gibbering 18-year-old recruit fresh from Stupidville, telling you they can assist you? The only way they could assist is if they were asking "D'ya want fries with that?"
And yet, you stand there in the middle of a busy street while they tell you what a mess you've made of your life. There is a way you can take your revenge. Lure the SI towards you. You accomplish this by one of three methods: 1) The limping seagull method; 2) The uncontrolled emotions method; 3) The heaps of stinking cash sticking out of your pocket method.
Your mission is to get asked to do the big test. I have always found it's best to take a surreal approach when the big test is in front of you. Circle at least two answers for every multiple choice, swap the test with your friends, leave entire sections out or ask if you can finish it at home in your own time. If a moral dilemma (DAAS FLASHBACK <- I wrote that, not Paul) has an obvious answer, find the most grotesque answer and circle that.
For instance, if the question is: a young attractive family of four are involved in a high speed collision with a tree. Thier expensive car is about to burst into flames. Do you:
a) Immediately ring the police and ambulance service;
b) Without thinking of your own safety rush into the burning wreck and save their lives;
c) Wait for the fire to die down, get rid of the bodies and sell the car for scrap?
I would mark "c" (with the proviso that you would also flog their still-smouldering body parts in the overseas organ market). You would be surprised how highly you can score as a motivated personality by this method. I may sound sceptical about the methods employed by the SI, but there are some undeniable truths. Their carefully designed forms do help you to uncover aspects of your personality. For instance, if you walk up the stairs, you've discovered you're Gullible. If you sign away your earthly belongings for a "seminar" you've discovered you're Stupid. How much else you learn on the streets of Sydney is up to you.
Well there you go boys and girls. I hope you enjoyed it.