It was the spring of 2005; I was unemployed and living with my parents.
I had been looking for temporary work on Craig’s List, ideally something that didn’t involve ‘amateur modeling,’ when I came across a post that offered $10 an hour for anyone who had an undergraduate degree. It didn’t matter what the degree was in, all you needed was proof that you had graduated.
I was a bit skeptical but I needed a job and more than that, I needed something to get me out of my parents’ house for 8 hours a day. So I drove out to Rancho Cordova and into a business park located on the decommissioned airbase out there. My group interview took place in a large warehouse that had been subdivided, seemingly infinitely, into small cubicles. The interview consisted of a middle aged lady examining our undergraduate transcripts and then signing us up on the work schedule for next week.
It was official; I was now a paid grader for mandatory standardized tests for elementary school children.
And yes, most of these tests are graded by a computer that scans all of their bubbled-in answers, but there are portions that require short essay type answers. This is where my undergraduate degree holding expertise would come in. For the next two months I would spend 8 hours a day in a cubicle in a warehouse on a former air force base grading essays from 5th grade students enrolled in the public school system of the state of Arizona.
The students had to write a one paragraph follow up to a given prompt. I suppose this was seen as a chance for them to do a bit of creative writing and show off their knowledge of the English language.
At first I diligently read through each response, carefully grading every student based on a set of standards we were all given on the first day. But over time I started to really appreciate the way these kids weren’t bound by the rigors of things like logical thought.
I now present to you my collection of my favorite responses to the prompt, “There was a mysterious knock at the door…”
-As you can see, I’m not very athletic or active
-the creature looked un-American
-Once a pond time
-then Ernesto said, “Holy crap. Space chicken!”
-there once was a man named cyborg. That man was me. I was at home upgrading my arm cannon
-the monster looked like the monster from Harry potter. In fact, it was the monster from Harry Potter
-and that's when Mrs. Emering from gym class beat up that unicorn
-she was Irish, but was very intelligent
-read the next paragraph to find out what happens next
-thank you for your hospitalization
-I ran down into the back alley of Red Lobster
-please no flash photography until after the story
-the monster ate me lime by lime
-My favorite day of the week is Saturday, but today is Tuesday
-I opened my door surprised to see an Asian
-The knock at the door was my mom, back from jail after five years. She got stabbed in a fight with another lady in jail.
-then the creature suddenly returned to Alabama
-I ran away like a mouse, a very overweight mouse
-based on a true story
-then the creature said, “what up G”
-it was grabbing at his fudge pop
-oh, by the way, my name is Jesus
-the moral of the story was, DON’T MESS WITH FRANK