Sunday, May 5, 2013

The MDA mission

After a year and a half of intense study I decided to take a break from school. That's my version anyway and I'm sticking to it. I needed some time to figure things out so I notified school that I was leaving the biology/chemistry program. They didn't look too upset. I was kind of hoping for some tears and begging on their part, but alas, they accepted my decision with dignity.
My mother advised me (nagged me until I agreed, since the only other option was matricide) to go to a career counselor. We chatted for an hour and a half, and I learned new things about myself. For example, I don't like helping people. I try to avoid that as much as possible. Also I have no interests beyond music, cooking, and animals. My favorite thing in the world is listening to music while cooking animals. The only thing I can really see myself studying and making a career out of is science (not the physics kind- transverse waves make me dizzy). Actually, I knew all this stuff about myself already but I got confirmation so hopefully my mother will stop nagging me about taking career tests for a while. If not, matricide is back on the table. In any case, we concluded that I should continue studying science.
After a bit of back and forth with my adviser, the secretary of the biology department, the secretary of the... um, honestly I don't know what she's the secretary of. All I know is that whenever I need anything involving forms I'm told to go to her. So, yes, a bit of back and forth with her, plus one of the professors I had last semester (I don't know in what capacity. I was told to go to the conference room on Wednesday between 1:00 and 2:00 pm to talk to him so I did). When I say back and forth, I mostly mean unanswered emails, and running around to various different people who send me to various other people just to get me out of their office. After talking to my ex-professor, I think it was decided that I could switch my major from biology and chemistry to just biology. I think. He told me to be in touch with the secretary closer to the beginning of the semester. Right, cuz that's easy. Sure, just bombard her with emails until I get tired of being ignored and finally storm into her office, explain the entire thing all over again because she has no idea what I'm talking about and has to send an email or call the professor to clarify, who happens to be incommunicado in the Bahamas, and finally get a response two days before the semester starts. Sure, easy as cake mix.
In the meantime, I have lots of free time. Time enough to reacquaint myself with sunlight and vitamin D. I decided to do something I've never had time to do and enroll in an EMT course with Magen David Adom. I found an email address on their website for the central teaching center, so I sent an email hoping that it actually went somewhere and patiently waited for a response. I got an answer back that their was a course starting in Jerusalem on April 22nd. The course lasts 5 months and takes place two evenings a week. Ok, but how do I sign up? I got a reply a few days later- you have to sign up by phone.
The reply came a few days before Passover so I figured I'd better get on it before they left for vacation. I called them 2 days before, no answer. I called them a day before, no answer. So I waited until after Passover to call them. Eventually I got through to someone. She explained how everything works and that any non-native speaker has to pass a Hebrew test first. I sighed and asked her how I set one of these tests up. She gave me the number of the MDA center in Jerusalem and told me to call them to set up a test. Which would have been easy if the extension I kept getting sent to worked. But of course it didn't work. I wonder if they change their numbers without changing the extension on purpose, or if afterwards they just can't figure out why no one's calling them anymore. I can totally picture them getting fed up with the phone ringing and screwing with the extension to send all calls to Mars. Well, won't they be surprised if someone answers and I'm the one who discovers extraterrestrial life. After many failed attempts at contact I called back the central teaching center to tell them that they were all idiots and that I wouldn't take the course if they paid me. Well, that's what I wanted to say anyway. What I actually said was that no one was answering at the number they gave me, so they transferred me directly to the central MDA office (the one on Earth) and someone answered. Three minutes later I had an appointment to take the test that Thursday at 5:00. Which just goes to show how helpful people are forced to be when you finally track them down.
That Thursday at ten to 5:00, I was wandering around the general area trying to find the MDA building. I called my friend first who had taken me there on a blood donating excursion some years before (yes, that's her idea of a fun outing. I know, but she doesn't drink, so what can you do?). She couldn't remember exactly where it was, so I called my mother who didn't know exactly where it was either so I finally asked some lady walking by and she directed me to the building. It was down a side street I'd never have found by myself, and the only two points of ingress that were visible were locked. By now it was 5:00 on the dot and I was starting to get a bit anxious. There was a call button on the wall, so I pressed it. Several times. After no response I went to the other door and tried the call button again. I'm not really sure why, now that I think about it since both call buttons probably go to the same place.
I spotted an ambulance coming out of a driveway, so I followed the driveway around the side of the building where a bunch of people in MDA uniforms were standing around. I told them I was there to take a test and asked where I was supposed to go. After a brief chat in which they asked me why I had to take a Hebrew test if I obviously spoke Hebrew, and I shrugged and answered bureaucracy, they gave me the code to the nearby entrance so I could get into the building. I know, they gave me the code to the building! What ever happened to state secrets and the such? Can you imagine Obama going, “the pizza guy wants the code to the nuclear warheads? Sure, why not.” Not that this is exactly the same thing, but still, you don't want just anyone wandering around a medical facility. In any case, they couldn't exactly remember which floor it was on so I just took the elevator and got off at every floor until I found one with actual human beings on it. I finally got off on the last floor and wandered around til I found a guy behind a desk who pointed me down the hall. I got there and walked into a room full of people who just looked at me and pointed to the unmarked room next door.
I walked in and they said to me, “Congratulations, you have just completed your first mission. Welcome to the Mossad.” Well, that's what I expected them to say anyway. Instead, they just looked at me and went, “yes?” As if I hadn't just achieved a miracle of epic proportions by just finding the right room in the first place. They gave me a 10 page test, and I was done 20 minutes later. The woman who collected my test told me she'd call on Sunday to let me know if I passed.

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