So I have a couple of new letters to add after my name.
I took my CRT exam today, which is the entry-level certification for respiratory therapists. I was supposed to have done this several weeks ago, but the snow happened, and I had to reschedule. I was afraid I was going to be the last person in my class to take the stupid thing, but I was actually testing today with two of my classmates. Not that it made any difference, because we were expressly forbidden from speaking to each other.
Anyway, I got a little apprehensive about the whole ordeal when reviewing my confirmation email this morning. Not because of the test - I mean, it's a big deal and everything, but we've been taking practice CRT exams at the end of each semester since I started school, and I passed them all - but because of the instructions on how to locate the testing center.
The first thing that stuck out to me was the instruction to park in a parking deck across from the bus station. Now, I'm not sure about the rest of the world, but there are a lot of very sketchy people that hang out at this bus station. It's a very lovely building, but it's kinda hard to see the beauty of it when there are vagrants vomiting in the bushes around the clock. Also, it has been heavily graffitied. However, the graffiti-ists were not the most creative of people. So the entire building is covered in rather non-descript messages in black spray paint. As I have never tagged anything myself, I don't know if this is actually the current style of graffiti. I suspect we just have really bad graffitiers.
(I really wish I had a picture to show of this, but I sure as hell wasn't going to hang around long enough to take one. My apologies.)
Anyway, the directions went on to instruct me to walk up several blocks and look for a building with a green awning. Not a problem. Green awning. Got it. Then, they instructed me to walk passed the door of the building and down an alley.
I didn't really know what to make of that. I mean, I try to avoid alleys at all costs. Mostly because I tend to be a tiny bit on the nervous side, and I've watched entirely too many cop dramas on television over the years to ever consider hanging out in one for any reason. But I reasoned that the testing center people surely wouldn't send me down an alley for no reason.
The next step was to look for an unmarked door behind a Dumpster.
At this point, I started to suspect that the testing center was actually a speakeasy in the 1920's. An unmarked door. Behind a Dumpster. Seriously.
The door was, of course, locked. So I knocked. And waited. Alone. In an alley. Behind a Dumpster. I really expected someone to jump out of it and knock me in the head and steal my purse or something. So I waited for someone to let me in. In reality, I probably waited about 30 seconds. But they were the longest seconds OF MY LIFE.
Once inside the testing facility, I got to go about proving I am who I say I am. I used my passport, because in most cases, a passport counts as two forms of identification. But not here. I'm lucky I had my driver's license on me, because I was not about to walk back through the scary alley and passed the bus station to get it.
I then had to remove all of my jewelry and prove that my eyeglasses were eyeglasses and not some kind of crazy cheating device. I couldn't even bring my own pencil into the testing room. We were provided with a golf pencil and one piece of lime green scratch paper. All of my other belongings were placed inside a canvas bag, which was then locked and attached to the back of my chair. I had to argue with the woman for ten minutes to get her to let me keep my inhaler out. She really didn't want to let me, but when I pointed out that in the event of an unexpected problem I could be dead by the time she unlocked my bag, she relented. But I had to sit it on the table behind me. In case I had crib notes written on the canister or something.
I can't really say much about the test itself, because apparently the first rule of CRT testing is you do not talk about CRT testing. But 86 minutes later, I walked out of that place with my scores in my hands, and I didn't even notice the alley or the bus station. Because it was over. And I passed.