new experience #24: deliberately cheat on a test

for today’s dramatic tale, we take a step back in time to the month of july – maybe 4-5 weeks ago, now.

prologue: as i have mentioned over and over and over again a few times, i love my job at the store. i was made for retail sales, specifically, within the running universe. it’s a very good thing when you wake up wanting to go to work, and bounce with every step that you take to get there.

that being said, recent life events gave me pause to consider other employment options. sometimes, it’s necessary to test the waters, dip your feet in the pool,  in order to avoid stagnation.

i applied to a full-time job in the bookstore of one of our local educational institutes of higher learning [sidenote: i don’t mind sharing this story with you because all pertinent parties/people who need to know about it were made aware, at the time].

and what do you know, i was granted an interview.

act 1: the day of my interview (i found it interesting that i had absolutely no say in choosing my interview day or time. i was informed when and where to show up. as luck would have it, that week i had ONE day off from the store, and my interview was scheduled for my free day. that was a good sign) my emotions were on high alert: you know that sensation where every nerve ending is electrified. kramer knows what i mean:


human resources had sent me a comprehensive email which described the interview format, the interviewers’ names, etc. i had prepped quite extensively for my interview, brushing up on media press releases, the school’s history, future plans, etc. i also reflected on possible questions i could face, (ex: what’s one of your weaknesses, what type of person would it be challenging for you to work with) and mentally composed the most positive ways in which to respond.

i arrived on campus over an hour early, so meandered around growing increasingly bored and anxious until my interview time.

act 2: promptly, at the specified time, i was ushered into the interview room where i was greeted by the three-member interview team. to cut to the chase, by the time i walked out 30 minutes later, i was feeling really good about how the interview had gone. the questions were not as complex as i had anticipated, and i was able to draw from my customer service/retail experience quite readily and confidently.

smiling as we all shook hands, i breathed a sigh of relief, as i turned to exit.


the representative from human resources turned and said, “if you would just follow me, we have a short math quiz for you to take.”

say what?

my eyes didn’t physically pop out of my head, but it sure felt like they were going to.

nowhere, in all of the various communications i had received had math test been referred to. this was a complete and unexpected surprise.

i do not shine to my utmost when sidesmacked with surprises.

act 3: i was shown to a small box cubicle in a windowless cubbyhole room, given a two-sided sheet of questions, a calculator and pen, and advised that i had thirty minutes in which to complete said quiz, but i likely would not need that much time.

i glanced at the questions. they appeared to be fairly simple. too simple. i thought, these must be trick questions! i glanced at one of the questions: “your pos (point-of-sale) system is down. calculate the hst tax on the following (six) items.”

i froze. what is the hst amount in ontario??? [hst stands for harmonized sales tax]. i KNOW i’ve worked in retail for six years, and this fact should be front and centre in my brain. and yes, i purchase items in stores practically daily. but i couldn’t, for the life, of me, recall what % the hst is.

i glanced around. there was a small window in the door of the room i was in, but no one was outside, and no one was checking on me.

surreptitiously, i snuck my blackberry out of my purse. with agitated fingers, i plugged “hst” into google search. i had to go into and back out of a few websites (*#$&* this!!!) then found the amount i was looking for: 13 %. i will never forget this fact, as long as i live, you can bet on this.

so, i was able to complete the math calculations. but again, i thought, this must be a trick question. i bet something on this list is exempt. by this point, i was too rattled to do any more illegal internet searching. i just wrapped up my responses to the quiz, and called it a day.

now, you have to know this about me: all through school, from kindergarten right through to university graduation, i was, unequivocally, the teacher’s pet type of student. never in a million years would i even consider cheating on a test or assignment. so while i am super embarrassed that i didn’t know the hst, i also have to admit i am proud that i thought to use my blackberry to help me out. and i can’t say i’m sorry for or regret my actions.

act 4: a couple of weeks later, i received a letter advising that i did not get the job. to my dying day, i will be convinced that the surprise math test did me in.




treat: chocolate chunk cookie from starbucks

price: $1.94

rating: **1/2 (two and a half stars)

tasting notes: the chocolate chunks make this cookie. the dough is a bit tasteless, but overall it’s a good cookie. that being said, it’s not mind-blowing, or anything.

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  • Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga  On August 10, 2011 at 7:41 am

    So sorry about the job, Cathy! ugh!!

    And some of starbucks bakery goods are insanely amazing.
    Others are just insanely overpriced 🙂

  • Nicole  On August 9, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    ah, man! Sorry to hear. I don’t think the math test did you in. I bet they hired someone internally. They always do crazy stuff like that.

    We pay hst on food items that aren’t necessary (snack items) – chips, cookies, pop, chocolate… those things. Basic grocery items: bread, milk, vegetables, canned goods = no hst.

    • 1970kikiproject  On August 9, 2011 at 5:20 pm

      nicole, thank you!!! boy, you give me the winning idea on how to spend a gift card, you clarify the hst issue…i heartily thank you! i left some details out of the story, but i have my suspicions, too…! 🙂

  • Johanna B  On August 9, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    And we think we have it bad with less than 8% sales tax here. Do you pay taxes on food items? In Texas, we didn’t. In Louisiana it was much less on food items. In Kansas it’s all the same. Just curious.

    • 1970kikiproject  On August 9, 2011 at 12:22 pm

      oh gosh, johanna – you’re testing me again!! 🙂 i THINK…that you DO NOT pay tax on groceries. BUT there IS tax on items like pop, gum, chips….maybe someone local can provide more detail! i wish tax was just included in the price you see in the store. that way you KNOW what you’re paying before you get to the check out (that’s the method they use at the gas stations, here). 8% – you are lucky!!!

  • Holly  On August 9, 2011 at 11:46 am

    Oh Cathy that stinks! I also like to be prepared for things and I like to know what is coming — especially something like a test. I’m surprised they didn’t mention that to you especially since they told you who you would be meeting with, etc.

    And I am not so good at taking tests — I think every question is a trick question which just frustrates me to no end!

    • 1970kikiproject  On August 9, 2011 at 12:24 pm

      i wish i could find out now exactly how i did on the test…although maybe i am better off being in the dark! it sounds like we both overthink/overanalyze, holly! 🙂

  • Zo  On August 9, 2011 at 11:45 am

    Yes, but was there hst on the cookies? I was the same sort of student, so I understand your “rule-breaking” glee! They sound a bit odd anyway (like not asking about a day/time….job interviews are definitely stressful.

    • 1970kikiproject  On August 9, 2011 at 12:26 pm

      cookies do get hst, i do believe…although i could be wrong! i am realizing that i really should brush up on what gets hst and what does not! i wondered, too – what if i just could not have made that date/time?…glad it’s behind me!!

  • The Orchard  On August 9, 2011 at 8:35 am

    Well, if it makes you feel any better I would not have remembered what the HST was either! I don’t even have a Blackberry or iPhone to help me out in that situation either! Yikes!

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