MTA Track Work Exam
Back in February when I was self unemployed I had already know that I did not want to work in an office cubicle for many years of my life, and had begun to think of Union type jobs that would allow me to be out and about seeing different places and things each day. I can across the NYC.DCAS homepage; it is the site that posts City jobs that are currently issuing applications for employment. I saw the Track Worker job open, and thought that it didnâ€™t seem that bad.
FYI, Track Workers inspect rails, remove old railings and install new ones, they also clear debris like snow and ice from the overhead tracks too.
I have seen track workers most of my life, and a couple of years back it was a hot summer day and I saw a few MTA track people in the Wendyâ€™s of Rockefeller Center, I thought that I would never want to work in such a hot stuffy place, and at the same time I saw that these guys seemed genuinely happy, which was a huge contrast from the many 9-5ers that were in the Wendyâ€™s at the same time.
That memory stuck in my head, and I thought why not give it a shot. On Valentineâ€™s Day I awoke early in the morning, and stepped out the West Village apartment I had slept in with the Cheese, and walked downtown. Way downtown. I had to walk to Greenwich Street at the lower most portion of Manhattan. I was familiar with the building, since it was the same building that held the classrooms for the Series 7 license class that I took the year before. That day was warm for February, which wasnâ€™t out of the norm for last winter, since most of January and February was unseasonable warm. There was a bunch of snow on many city streets and sidewalks still due to the record setting blizzard of 06, which for some reason didnâ€™t have as much snow as the blizzard of 96, but anyways. I had on my boots, and toughed it through the packed snow drifts the mile or so down along 6th Avenue.
The DCAS office in that building has itâ€™s own entrance, which I had never used before since I always went up to about the 20th floor. This entrance was peculiar to me, it had people coming out of it that clearly didnâ€™t fit into the downtown Manhattan suit type mold that crowds the streets down there. These people I could see all wanted to work, and for whatever reason either choose not to work in an office, or canâ€™t get a job in an office due to lack of office type of skills. I fell into the first portion. *
I immediately went home and filled out the application when I got home that day. This Track Worker job would be my plan B, or CDE or F. I didnâ€™t want to immediately just jump and be a Track Worker, but wouldnâ€™t mind working as one someday. The application wasnâ€™t an application for employment; it was actually an application to take the test of employment. Which would occur in April, roughly two months away.
Test day finally rolled around, and I had received my exam information in the mail; which were the way things were supposed to be. Test day was a cold and rainy day. I had purchased a new cheap watch early in that morning, since cell phones were prohibited. After lunch I left my place to go over the FDR High School, which is geographically probably the most central part of Brooklyn. I arrived with plenty of time to spare, and decided to go in early since it was raining. The school building entrance is on the inside portion of the school grounds, and after I entered the gate to the school grounds I heard a guy who appeared to be some type of junkie yelling,
â€œNumber 2 pencils, 2 for a dollar, you canâ€™t take the test without some number 2s.â€
I laughed to myself about how when people are in need of a fix they can think of the weirdest things to sell, or do as a way to raise money for their next fix. This was one of the oddest yet lamest attempts to get money I had seen in a long while. Other people walking up beside me were flat out laughing at those attempts, and I recall one mentioning how he could buy a pack of 10 for a dollar, which is true, and I must give it up to the guy for working with such a high profit margin with those pencils.
I entered the school, and had the feeling that I was entering some type of prison. Lots of guards at the doors, DCAS personal were everywhere inside, informing people to go into the auditorium. I walked into the auditorium, and could see that I was one of the smallest, and one of the whitest folk in there. There were lots of really big black guys, and really big black women. I found myself a seat near a door, and with a big enough space around me so that I wouldnâ€™t feel closed in.
At that moment in time I looked around again, and thought to myself, that this was probably what walking into a prison would feel like â€“ minus the women, and that I hoped I never go to prison.
I shall always remember the advice of my oldest brother in law after turning 18. While driving he turned to me and said, â€œIâ€™m gonna give you the same advice that my Uncle Jimmy gave me when I turned 18. Donâ€™t do anything stupid that will get yourself arrested, youâ€™ll end up going to jail and being some big black guy with a huge dick named Bubbaâ€™s bitch.â€ Even though I hadnâ€™t really ever been caught up with the law much as a teenager those words stayed in my mind forever.
I then had to sit and wait for the test time, and then thought if that auditorium was a prison, that people would then break up into groups, most likely via the color of their skin, which I found odd and still find odd.
To quote Rodney King, â€œwhy canâ€™t we all just get along?â€
Test time arrived, and I walked up with a crowd of people, and entered a high school classroom. They sat us with empty rows in between us, and handed out the tests.
Since there was no way to prep oneself for this test I was slightly nervous to begin. What if they ask lots of questions that I donâ€™t know the answer to? What if I screw up the scantron and my grade is messed up?
I then opened up the book, and saw the first question, which was a drawing of a screwdriver, and the caption read, â€œWhat tool is this?â€ and underneath was multiple choice answers. I smiled and wondered why they give out tests like this, and that there must have been some real retards who worked as a Track Worker in the past that justified the need for such a test.
I finished the test in about half the allotted time that was given. With only one or two questions that I hadnâ€™t a clue to what the answer was. One question had a drawing of a crowbar, and the multiple choice answers were nothing like any word I had ever seen before in my life. Nothing remotely close to a crowbar or pry bar. I just guessed at those questions.
I never checked my answers to see what kind of grade I got, didnâ€™t really care what grade I got, and assumed that one day I would receive a letter informing me that the City of New York and the Metropolitan Transit Authority needed me.
Last Friday when I returned home from work there was an official letter in the mail waiting for me to open it.
My immediate thoughts were â€œSo soon?â€ and â€œNot yet, I donâ€™t want to be a Track Worker yetâ€.
I opened the official letter, and it had my score. I got a 96.25 on the exam, and placed on a certain list at number 346.
No one wanted me, yet, and I was relieved that I would not have to make a life changing decision. While I donâ€™t enjoy temping in an office, I do enjoy knowing what my schedule will be, and things of that sort, and the Track Worker job would just throw it all up in the air, and at the time I wasnâ€™t in the mood to do that.
Then this morning I was reading NewYorkHack who writes a kick ass blog about driving a taxi in NYC and she wrote â€œI wanted to try something new and completely foreign to me while making a living and without having to settle and commit to some shitty “career” for the rest of my life.â€
This one sentence clicked for me, and if I got a notice saying my number is being called to be a Track Worker I would do it. I think it would be a good change, new, different, and not everlasting.
* If I had it my way I would never work a day again in my life. Seven months of self unemployment allowed me to fully realize that a job is not necessary in order to let me feel any sort of fulfillment in life, there are plenty of other things to do to feel busy, and feel as though you are being rewarded somehow.