In 1987, I was living in Revere, MO, population about 150.  My wife had gotten a teaching position at the local school, and I was substitute teaching (which I don’t recommend to anyone who can possibly avoid it).

I knew I needed a real job.  Iowa was just a few miles north, so I went to the Iowa Employment Place in Keokuk.  I signed up, and was scheduled to take a mandatory placement test.

I took the test a week or so later with a group of people. Most of it was written, and pretty easy.  I felt like I was in eighth grade again.

Another part of the test involved manual dexterity, like flipping pegs over on a pegboard.  I assume this was to test for proficiency in factory work.  I was faster than most in my group.

A couple of weeks later, I went back in to see how I’d done.  A woman checked the files, took a look, looked at me, and said, “Come with me.”

I followed her into an office.  Her expression was like a doctor about to tell me I had two weeks to live.  She said, “Mr. Webel, you scored over ninety percent.”

I said, “That’s good, right?”

She said, “Most of the people we get in here don’t score over fifty percent.  I’m afraid we can’t find anything for you.”

Right then I realized a sad fact: I’m too smart for Iowa.

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