Tonawanda News

November 7, 2012

HAYNES: Proving IQ hard in unexpected ways

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The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — You know things aren’t going all that well when the easiest part of your day is taking a Mensa test.

I was contacted a couple weeks ago by the Western New York chapter of the organization about taking the test as part of Mensa admissions testing month ... turns out it was actually Mensa testing day the day all hell broke loose for me at Buffalo State College when I decided to put my IQ to the test.

OK, so I may be exaggerating how bad things were that day, but not by much. And it certainly made me question why I was taking a test meant to discover extraordinary intelligence when I had such difficulties just functioning as a normal human being that particular day. 

I never thought I’d actually do well on the test, much less be invited to join the prestigious group of geniuses — well, maybe I had deep-down, secret hopes I would — but I thought maybe it might make good column fodder. So why not?

My troubles started earlier that day when I decided to leave home an hour in advance of test-taking time at 1:15 p.m. I have a tendency to get lost or frustrated when venturing out to new places and I didn’t want to chance being late. 

Turns out, I’d need all that extra time.

Halfway out of my front door, pleased with being ready nice and early, the thought struck me that perhaps I’d need a No. 2 pencil. Most tests use scan tron, right? Fifteen minutes of frantic searching later and I left the house armed with a manual pencil sharper — but no pencil — which would hopefully be enough to prove forethought.

Still well ahead of schedule I stopped at a gas station close to campus and grabbed a package of unsharpened pencils — pencil sharpener for the win!

The real troubles started once I parked in a space so close to the Buff State library, I could take five steps from my car and touch the building. Parking score! 

Or so I thought.

It pretty much started pouring the moment I stepped out of my car. After circling about halfway around the building, and checking several locked doors along the way, I realized perhaps I would have found a closer, open door if I had just gone counterclockwise around the building.

Soaked, I finally gained entry to the fortress and made my way up to the second floor. But wait, did they tell me room 215 or 218? Maybe it was 217? 

It didn’t matter because about 15 minutes of navigating through the various hallways and stacks of the second floor of that library, all I could find was room 210a, 210b and 207. What the heck!? Oh, sorry, didn’t mean to disturb you studious co-eds hidden in the deep recesses of this Narnia-like floor. 

Heading back down to the first floor, a group of student library workers could only tell me 215 (and 217 and 218 for that matter) was on the second floor ... no specifcs. 

A woman at the circulation desk chided me for not finding a door marked “EXIT” through another group of double doors she initially told me not to use. 

The “EXIT” door she instructed me to use on the first floor — because, oh yeah, the test had been moved to room 135 — said it was only for authorized personnel. What? Would they arrest me for going through this door? Would I really find myself in Narnia?

It was at this point in my quest that I stopped to think, hey maybe this test isn’t for me if I’m having this much difficulty. Maybe I’m better suited to the dumb-person’s club I already belong to where the only directions I need to know is to the local bar. 

At this moment — tears might have been forming ... confusion already etched on my face — a friendly gentleman approached looking ready to help this poor, lost soul. Turns out he works at the library AND is a member of Mensa. He knew exactly where I needed to go and led me straight there.

I joked about my getting lost. He joked about the archives room’s disarray due to an ongoing move. He might have also tried to recruit me to help carry boxes. The test proctor talked about her love of boardgames — she’s got dozens — and how the local Mensa group gets together for game nights. I got free, sharpened pencils.

Basically, they were incredibly down-to-earth, funny people. And absolutely welcoming. 

Now I kinda hope I’m extended an invitation to join Mensa. Heck, I really hope I do.

If not, I guess I can fool people by frequently using my beautiful new Mensa pencils. 

Oh yeah, and it turns out the first locked door I tried to the library closest to my car led directly to the hallway where room 135 was located. Figures. 

For those interested in taking the test to join Mensa, the Western New York chapter offers $40 tests every other month. Visit the organization’s website for more information at www.wny.us.mensa.org.

Contact features editor Danielle Haynes at 693-1000, ext. 4116.