MR. WRONG: Getting Turing tested


MR. WRONG: Getting Turing tested

MR. WRONG: The Robots Are Taking Over My Job Interviews

I AM AN underemployed American. I am busy all the time doing stuff, such as typing this column, but in no way am I currently bringing in enough of the dough-re-me to even approach being considered Gainfully Employed.

My process and result has been very much like the parking meter scene with the character Lefty, portrayed by Al Pacino in the 1997 Major Motion Picture Donnie Brasco, which is about Organized Criminals. Lefty brings the top of a parking meter—this is back when all parking meters were these grimy little pole-mounted heavily armored metal devices you put actual coins into—back to the crime gang’s clubhouse, and he starts trying to bust it open to get the coins out. It’s a very stressful scene because Lefty is whaling away at this metal box while the head crime guy is seething about how nobody is Earning, and Lefty is steady whacking away at this parking meter—BAM! BAM! BAM! Lefty is earning! However, it’s small change, literally, coins inside a parking meter! BAM! BAM! Again, for me, I can relate. I’m out there, doing stuff, but all I’m bringing home is parking meters. BAM!

Meanwhile, I am my own crime boss, and I am not happy with the Earning in my one-man gang for the past year, since I lost my Day Job, and don’t get me started about Unemployment. I earn a little bit of dough, here and there, and that means I’d have to report it so that Unemployment can deduct it from my Unemployment. I went through this several years ago when I was still quite naive, and they made it very hard for me to collect my Unemployment. I had to keep explaining myself when they suspended my payments because I was making a few bucks, so I stopped filing, they won! I would rather Earn, anyway. I can’t sit at home and only look for a job, I gotta hustle, I guess it’s a character flaw or something. I think it’s dumb that they deduct money from your Unemployment only when you report it. You should just get the dough until you pop up in the system with a new 1099 or W-2 or whatever, and then settle up with the Government. There’s lotsa people out there who are basically forced to work under the table for cash in order to protect their Unemployment, it’s not a good System, and double don’t get me started about Health Care insurance for folks who are out of work, jeez.

Anway, I have of course been trying to get a shiny-new whole entire Day Job in my field and stuff. The other day I got an interview for a job that I think I would be perfect for. Of course, all of the job opportunities for which I have taken the time to apply are jobs I thought I would be perfect for, not kidding, I’m not swingin’ too high and not going low, just responding to chances for things to which I am completely well-suited. I have not been getting a lotta callbacks for interviews, so this was kind of a big deal, to get a chance to be in a room with a shot-caller and tell them how great I am.

Except I wasn't in a room with anyone, it was a Remote Interview, and deeper still, there wasn't anyone but me in the Remote Interview, either. I was being “interviewed” by canned recordings of various people, and then I would record my answer back.

Describe in single words, only the good things that come into your mind about your mother. You’re watching television. Suddenly you realize there’s a wasp crawling on your arm. It’s your birthday. Someone gives you a calfskin wallet.

My first so-called Interviewer, who didn’t tell me their name or anything, just recited one of those open-ended interview questions you usually get at the end of the interview, about how I react to criticism or how I would describe my work process. There were 10 questions, and you got practice questions, as many as you wanted, and then you clicked a button to the actual so-called interview. When you were in the interview session, you had a countdown to when it was your time to speak, and three minutes to answer. When you were done, it was like a voicemail, you could re-record the answer as many times as you wanted. I am a one-take kinda performer so it didn’t take me long, and no way was I gonna go for three minutes, I kept it short and snappy, because at this point, Jesus Christ, there’s still gotta be a Human Being at the other end of this process. Doesn't there? Who knows? Maybe it’s already just some dopey fucking AI interfacing with the answers and looking for Key Words to move a file on to the next step, oy vey. I honestly can’t even remember the questions because none of ’em were about actual work, like “How exactly do you break open the parking meters, do you use a hammer or a prying tool?” Nothing like that, just fluffy stuff, it’s crazy that I can’t remember any of the questions, it was just really weird reacting back to a recording, kinda creepy, I mean, I’m a People Person, you know?

The MR. WRONG COLUMN is a general-interest column appearing weekly wherever it can appear. Always Be Columning. No refunds. Why don’t you go ahead and please write Wrong:


New York City, August 30, 2023

★★★★ The morning rain came on so strongly and suddenly it sounded as if a squirrel might be scrabbling in the air ducts. The front windows were spattered and the bagless newspaper was ruined. By midday everything was bright and clear, and the afternoon was calm and temperate. Constantly evolving clouds—now tightly scooped cumulus, now loose and spreading ones—moved slowly eastward. A cardinal and a blue jay faced off, and the blue jay, despite being louder, gave up and flew away. The chimes of the hour floated over the air-conditioner hum, and the late sun got into the top branches of the courtyard's tallest tree. There was no good angle for seeing the full moon from the apartment, but the neighbor's dog howled and whined anyway. Outside, the disc of it was framed in the street, huge and perfectly round and slightly yellow. The night breeze may have been even more gorgeous than the moon was.


Indignity Morning Podcast No. 136: Grave robbing.

Tom Scocca • Aug 31, 2023

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WE PRESENT INSTRUCTIONS for the assembly of select sandwiches from Handy Household Hints and Recipes, compiled by Mattie Lee Wehrley. Published in 1916, this book is in the Public Domain and available at for the delectation of all.

A Tasty Cheese Spread.
This can be used as a sandwich filling, spread on crackers, or made into small balls and served with crisp lettuce as a salad course. It is excellent to have on hand for emergency hospitality, as it keeps for weeks, if stored in a cool place. To make it, take half a pound of American cheese, half a pound of Swiss cheese, one piece of cream cheese, one quarter of a pound of butter, one teaspoonful of mustard, one small bunch of parsley, pepper and salt to taste, and sufficient tomato catsup to moisten—about a small cupful of the catsup is what I use. Put the cheese through the meat grinder; then cream thoroughly, and add the other ingredients. Chopped nut meats or pimento may also be added if desired.

English Walnut Sandwich.
Blanch and chop one cup walnuts and then add one-third cup of cream cheese. Rub well together and spread.

Onion Sandwich.
Bermuda onions make a nice sandwich. Slice and place between thin slices of buttered white or rye bread; you can add mayonnaise.

If you decide to prepare and attempt to enjoy a sandwich inspired by this offering, kindly send a picture to us at


19 FOLKTALES collects a series of timeless tales of canny animals, foolish people, monsters, magic, ambition, adventure, glory, failure, inexorable death, and ripe fruits and vegetables. Written by Tom Scocca and richly illustrated by Jim Cooke, these fables stand at the crossroads of wisdom and absurdity.

HMM WEEKLY MINI-ZINE, Subject: GAME SHOW, Joe MacLeod’s account of his Total Experience of a Journey Into Television, expanded from the original published account found here at Hmm Daily. The special MINI ZINE features other viewpoints related to an appearance on, at, and inside the teevee game show Who Wants to Be A Millionaire. Your $20 plus shipping and tax helps fund The Brick House collective, a Publishing Concern featuring a globally diverse set of publishers doing their own thing, with interesting items and publications available for purchase at SHOPULA.

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