The JC Penney Applicant Test Designed By Homer Simpson

Recently I decided it would be advantageous for me to get a part-time job.

Since J.C. Penney is one of my favorite places to shop, I thought it would be enjoyable to work there. I only wanted some seasonal employment to bring in some extra income for the holidays. I am currently a stay-at-home mom and am not ready to re-enter the work force on some grand scale. I went in to the store and inquired if they were hiring.

The sales lady was very friendly and helpful. She said, “Oh yes, they are hiring for the holidays. In fact I just applied not to long ago and they called me right away! She instructed me to go to the computer, or what is otherwise known as the “career kiosk.” No sweat I thought. This should be a piece of cake. I will have me a part-time job in no time.

So the next week I brought in my resume and sat down at the “career kiosk” to apply. I was applying for a customer service job essentially. So I sat down and began the process of applying.

After filling in my basic information I got to part-three. It consisted of fifty questions concerning customer service scenarios one might face, questions about JC Penney and questions assessing your personality. At the end of this fifty question “test” I was told by the computer that “I did not match the qualifications they were looking for and that I could reapply in 180 days.” That was rather a slap in the face let me tell you.

I can say from first hand experience now, that there is nothing more demoralizing than being told you do not qualify to be a JC Penney customer service representative.

The only thing I can think of that might be worse is being told that you don’t qualify to be a Walmart greeter.

I had to wonder at that point just exactly what idiot designed this “test” that screened out applicants. Judging from the quality of his assessment I feel sure he has a beer belly, eats lots of doughnuts and works for someone named Mr. Burns.

Homer Simpson and the JC Penney Application Test
I believe he is responsible for creating these tests!

I had a notion to write the colleges where I received my bachelors and my masters degree and ask for a refund. I wanted to tell them that I am confused as to why they conferred these degrees upon me since I am apparently not qualified to run a cash register at JC Penney.

First off I want to say that I think these tests are designed to assume that you are lying, so that when you actually tell the truth, they think you are lying.

For example, they asked me where I preferred to shop. J.C. Penney was an option. If I select this option they will think I am lying and just saying that to be a brown noser. If I don’t choose it they will say I am not brand loyal. That is a classic double bind. Who wrote this freakin’ test?

Then there was the awesome question about the guy selecting mattresses. The question stated, “Suppose some guy comes in wearing a ratty t-shirt and shorts and goes over and is looking at the most expensive mattresses. Do you:

A. Smile and tell him he has good taste
B. Call security
C. Ask your co-workers to keep an eye on him
D. Ask him to please stay off the mattresses

I think there might have been one more option but I can’t recall it now. Let’s just look at the stellar selections we have.

First off I want to say that half of America dresses in ratty t-shirts and shorts. So if I go over and insult him (option D), then Bill Gate’s nephew is going to go home and tell his Uncle and their goes the J.C. Penney scholarship fund Bill had planned to set up (in addition to the lost mattress sale). Secondly, why should I choose b or c? If the guy attempts to steal a mattress I think we’ve got the heads up on him. So that leaves option A. It’s not great, but it’s the best we’ve got given the ridiculous options.

Another great question was: If you know that one of your co-workers is stealing from the company what would you do? Honestly, I can’t say what the ‘average’ person would do, but I would turn them in. Again, they probably figure the ‘average’ person would not turn them in, so if you say you would, you must be a liar.

But all of this is beside the point really. The real question is why am I being screened by a computer for a customer service job? Customer service is all about people skills, and though I sound a little like a cynical Alanis Morisette in my remarks about this test, it really is rather asinine to have a computer judge a human being. After all, I thought “It Is All Inside?”

I was in at JC Penney once, late at night, right as the store was getting ready to close. I was looking around in the shoe department. There was a couple at the register with a lot of clothes. That was unusual. People don’t usually pay for clothes in the shoe department, especially a lot of them. I got the feeling they knew the sales clerk and that he was going to let them walk out without paying for any of the items. Yet that can’t be true, because he apparently “passed the test” and we know that statistically this test has been proven to screen out 99% of sociopaths, mass murderers, liars and lunatics. (I guess you will have to judge in which category I fall).

After suffering Post Traumatic JC Penney Associate Rejection Syndrome and much therapy, I have moved on. I have applied for a job at a nuclear power plant. I hear the beer and doughnuts are pretty good. I also hear they don’t require any tests, because apparently the reactors are easier to operate than cash registers.

The Perils of Pinocchio: Lying, Laziness and Growing Up

I am always amazed when I read a children’s classic to my kids and come to find it is not the sappy story I remembered from childhood. I think this is due to the fact that my parents did not read me the stories in early childhood. I simply watched some Disney version of the story which is definitely a watered down version.

Of course, I had heard of Pinocchio. He’s probably the most famous puppet ever. The only moral lesson I really associated with the story was Pinocchio’s nose growing long when he lied. That’s about it. So when I sat down and read the full story to my kids I was astonished by it, which is what a good story should do.

The story is replete with moral lessons. However, I was incredulous to the amount of violence in it as well. We are always worried about our kids being exposed to violence, yet here it was smack in the middle of one of the most famous children’s story ever. Or perhaps was Pinocchio like so many of Grimm’s fairy tales, really written for adults?

First off I was surprised that he actually used the word “assassins” when referring to the Fox and the Cat in the story (the two rogues who are always ripping Pinocchio off). That is not a word you hear often in a children’s story. The version of the book I was reading was replete with classic illustrations from many different illustrators. In one part of the book Pinocchio gets hung by the assassins. So sure enough there in the book is an illustration of Pinocchio hanging from a tree branch! I don’t remember that in the Disney version.

Pinocchio has to go through many perils on his way to becoming a real boy. Upon finding Gipetto, he recounts them to his Father in one big rush of a story, just like a real little boy would. “Oh Father, you will never believe what I have been through!”

One of my favorites of his many adventures is when he meets a large serpent stretched out across the road.

Pinocchio Encounters the Serpent
This serious looking serpent ends up dying laughing
He describes it: “It had green skin, fiery eyes, and a pointed tail that smoked like a chimney stack.” He tries to wait for the serpent to move but that doesn’t work. Then he tries talking it into moving, but it doesn’t respond. When he attempts to go over it, the snake shoots up and Pinocchio stumbles back and falls. His head lands in the mud with his feet sticking up. This tickles the snake so that it laughs and laughs until it bursts a blood vessel and dies. Sometimes I have to marvel at people’s imaginations. Just the thought of a snake with a smoking butt makes me laugh. The fact that he died by laughing makes it even funnier. What a way to go. I hope I die that way.

I found that there were many moral lessons in the story, not just the one about the consequences of Pinocchio lying. Pinocchio has to learn many hard things the hard way. Proverbs says that “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child.” Pinocchio displays this over and over again. Unless we have good parents who help us navigate life when we are young, there are many dangers out there.

I could commiserate with Pinocchio and his naiveté and gullibility. I’ve met my share of Foxes and Cats in this life. The lessons you learn from being taken in by them are bitter ones. Assassins is really not too strong of a word for them.

The lessons from the story come in handy. My son was complaining about not wanting to go to school. I said, “Well you remember what happens to boys who don’t go to school? They become asses!” He looked at me wide eyed. (Pinocchio learned that boys who don’t do their school work and only play, get turned into donkeys).

Another theme of the book is about not being lazy. I read a portion of the book to my sons in an attempt to explain to them that laziness is not a virtue and that they most definitely needed to clean their room and keep up with that!

In the story I was touched by Gipetto’s care and concern for the puppet he made. It made me think about how God feels about me. How He is rooting for me to make it through the pitfalls of this life and to navigate the evil people of this world.

Pinocchio’s story is ultimately my own.

In the end we all learn with Pinocchio that a big part of growing up is caring for others more than ourselves. I can’t wait until I am reunited with my Father. I have quite a story to tell him, especially about the serpent with the smoking tongue I encountered on my path. She had a good time mocking me, but in the end I enjoyed crushing her head as I stepped on her on my way to my Father.