Dot-Matrix Fortunetelling

When I was in junior high, my school unveiled this state-of-the-art program to help us determine what career paths we were suited for. This being the mid-80s, what they gave us was an MS-DOS program that asked 50 questions, each of which we had to answer on a scale of 1-5. Bo-ring! We all dreaded it. At the end, we got to use the brand-new dot-matrix printer to output our recommended careers.

I got “computer programmer” and “accountant.”

To a 13-year-old, there are few fortunes more depressing than that. I wanted something exciting! I wanted fame and fortune! I wanted something a little bit girly! I wanted something I could show to the other kids that wouldn’t make them say, “Yeah, I can see that.”

What I did was this: I snuck into the guidance counselor’s office, looked up his master sheet of career pages, found a few that I liked, and figured out how to answer the questions to arrive at those outcomes.

Yeah, basically I hacked the code.

I gave myself the following: “actress,” “dancer,” “writer,” “inventor,” and “astronaut.”

It wasn’t until I was in college that my best friend pointed out the irony of me hacking the code to prove to myself that I shouldn’t work with computers for a living.

Oh, well. Embrace the Match.com style of algorithm, is apparently the lesson here. Now that I’m in my 40s, my career is “IT/Accounting Manager.” And, to my relief, they don’t force us to wear pocket protectors.

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