Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Story Of The Bar

I think taking the bar exam is its own little adventure, no matter what attendant circumstances surround it. This was certainly a more tame experience compared to last time (the link to last time can be found in the previous post. If you never read about it, check it out. It was hilarious.), but there were a couple of things that are story worthy. So here goes:

On Monday afternoon my brother-in-law picked me up to drive me to the hotel I would be staying at while I took the bar. It was just a couple hundred yards away from the St. Paul River Centre, where the test was being given, so I had no need for a car, and he was nice enough to drive me down.

On the way there I had him pull into a little store because I needed to buy a pencil sharpener before the test. I couldn't find any in the school supply aisle, so I found an employee and asked whether they carried pencil sharpeners. She was very quick with her response. "Oh yeah, normally we've got 'em next to the pens and pencils, but we actually just sold out."

Yeah. They sold out of pencil sharpeners. That was weird enough in itself, but the fact that the employee actually appeared to know with some specificity when they had sold out... certainly remarkable.

I ended up being just fine, since they had sharpeners available at the test site, and one of my fellow examinees swiped a bunch of pencils from his firm and passed them out if people wanted them. I scored two.

The first time I took the bar it was given in this gigantic crappy fieldhouse. The River Centre was much nicer. The only thing about the set-up was that each of us shared a small narrow table with one other examinee. The guy sitting next to me was a big hairy sweaty dude. Actually, he kind of reminded me of The Dude (see, Lebowski, The Big). He was super friendly, and seemed like a nice guy, but he wasn't the ideal person to share a desk with. Plus, on the essay day, his laptop broke. I felt really bad for him. He seemed okay with it, and it was broken before we even started so it wasn't like he was typing and then had to stop and start writing, he was able to just write the whole time and adjust accordingly, so at least that was good.

What wasn't so good about it was that the computer repair people kept coming up to our table throughout the day, since they were trying to fix it for him. It was incredibly distracting. Plus, given that he was a really big guy and we had a really small wobbly table, his writing shook the whole thing. So between his writing and the computer people, day one had more distractions than one would normally want. I don't think it really had an effect on my test though. Whether or not the desk was constantly shaking, I still didn't know tax law.

The hotel I stayed at for the Virginia bar was, much like the Virginia test site, an absolute craphole. This time around I had a pretty nice room. The staff were really helpful and accommodating, and the location was perfect (directly across the street from the Xcel Center). I did have one tiny complaint though: the soap/shampoo/lotion was all mint scented. It was awful. It smelled like cheap mint gum or bad mouthwash. Maybe it's just me, but I don't want my hair to smell like bad mouthwash. I don't want to rub lotion on my hands and walk around the rest of the day feeling like I was handling gum. Has anyone else ever had a hotel room that used mint as their scent of choice? If so, go ahead and vouch for me here... it's truly horrible.

Another natural comparison with the Virginia Bar came up while taking this test. When I went through it all the first time the national girls twelve-and-under softball tournament was happening at the same complex where I was. This led to all sorts of encounters with obnoxious softball players and parents. This time around the Minnesota State High School Girl's Hockey Tournament was being held at the same complex. This wasn't nearly as bad as the softball tournament, since there were far fewer people, the kids were older, and I wasn't competing with tons of SUV's to drive to the test site. Still... it brought up some painful memories.

Finally, as a wonderful example of what taking the bar can do to a person, I'll leave you with this story:

After the first day I went out to dinner with a couple of friends who worked nearby. They dropped me back at the hotel and I was waiting for the elevator next to a girl who looked, like most of us examinees, quite frazzled. We were exhausted, anxious, and only half-way done. Suspecting she was also taking the bar I turned and asked, "You taking the bar too?"

"Hmm?" She asked, and then, quickly figuring out what I had asked, "No. No I'm not."

"Oh, sorry," I said.

The elevator came, and we both got on. I was on the top floor, she was one below me. It was a really slow elevator (the only other complaint I had with the hotel), and we stood there in silence for nearly 30 seconds.

Then, just before we reached her floor she turned and said, "Wait. Yes. I am taking the bar. I just now processed your question. I don't know why I said I no."

I just smiled as she got off the elevator. "Yup," I said, "That says it all."

And they sit at the bar
And put bread in my jar


Gina said...

I feel the same way as that girl and I haven't even started my boards yet... What a long month its been rounding up patients. Are you back in DC? Cause I think after boards are over tomorrow we are going out wanna come?

Mike said...

Dumb question: are you not allowed to use the far superior writing utensil known as a "mechanical pencil" on the bar exam? Y'all do have those in Minnesota, yes?

Anyway, how do you feel about how you did on the exam?

Matthew B. Novak said...

Gina -

I'm back in D.C. I flew back Thursday morning. I actually even went into work Thursday because I had stuff that needed to get filed.

Mike -

I honestly don't know if we were allowed to use them or not. I do know that they are far inferior. The only benefit they have is not needing to be sharpened, and since sharpeners are (usually) readily available and easy to use, that's hardly a significant advantage.

Matthew B. Novak said...

Oh, and I don't know how I feel about the exam. Mostly I just feel exhausted. Some parts went well, some did not. We'll see how I did in late April.

Also, Gina, I would have happily gone out, but... I almost called y'all Wednesday night, but I figured it was Ash Wednesday and all that, plus it was the middle of the week. Oh well.

Jacob said...

Wow, that girl was stressed. Good luck on the results, and glad to have you back!

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