The IQ Test

When I returned from the Service, I went back to work at The American Locomotive Company in Schenectady, New York. After a year and a half, the company experienced financial problems and I was laid off for a week. During this period of time I visited the Employment Office at the General Electric Company and was immediately given an interview. I was hired the same day as a Renewal Parts Clerk. My work station was in Building 69 on the fourth floor. On the next day, I resigned my position with Alco and started work in my new job.

The job was contingent upon my passing a physical test. I was sent to the Clinic on the grounds of the huge General Electric Plant. There, I went through the blood pressure, heart, eyes, ears, and nose tests, etc. Near the end, I was given a large test tube that had my last name attached to it, and was ushered to a rest room. “Come back when you’re done,” I was told.

I walked into the room but could not understand what I was supposed to do. I had not been given any instructions at all. I looked around and saw that the room was pretty much the same as I had seen and used at Alco. But what was I supposed to do? There was a clue on the wall. There was a wooden rack fastened there that contained about a dozen holes. Inserted in a few of the holes were test tubes the same as had been given to me. Looking further, I saw a row of sinks each with a little bottle half filled with an amber-colored soap. Then it occurred to me. “Ah,” I thought. “This is an intelligence test. They want me to figure out what is required and complete a required task!” But what was the task?

Glancing at the rack and the tubes located in the holes, I saw that they contained the same kind of liquid I could see in the bottles. Then it came to me. “I need to fill my tube with some of that soap as the others had done. “And,” I thought, “they want to see how well I can match the colors already in the tubes.” Very well, I would do that.

I put some water in my tube, and some of the soap, then checked the color to match what I thought might be the model, the liquid within the tube at the end of the rack. I was able to make a pretty good match, place my tube in the rack. I walked out pleased that I had been able to show my intellect at work.

When I returned to the office in my building, my supervisor asked how everything had gone. “Very well, Mr. Cook,” I responded. “I thought the IQ test was interesting.”

“IQ test?”

“Yes,” and I figured out what I needed to do!”

The phone rang on his desk. He picked it up.

“What? Soap? Uh-huh. Yes, I’ll do that right away.” Mr. Cook turned to me.

“That IQ test, did it have anything to do with soap.”


He looked as if he was going to explode trying to hold something back. Then he began to laugh. I stared in amazement “What was this all about?” I wondered.

Regaining control, he managed to sputter, “They want you back at the clinic. They’ll explain when you get there. There’s a follow-up IQ test they want you to take!”

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One Response to The IQ Test

  1. Peg Shambo says:


    You taught me Fortran IV at the TIPO(?)/GECON(?)/GEISCO(?) training center on Compiter Drive in Colonie. At the time, I was a computer operator at TIPO on Cambridge Drive in Schenectady.

    I joined GECON in 1986 as a consultant. My career was predominantly as a COBOL programmer/analyst, but I had to deal with different flavors of Fortran, on assorted platforms, now and then over the years. I even bought one or two of your books.

    Thank you for making learning Fortran not such a daunting task as I feared it would be!


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