Monday, September 15, 2008

Can't Stress Enough

Finding myself with a few extra minutes to spare during my trip home on Friday evening I decided to amuse myself by taking a free stress test. For those of who haven't seen this before, these stress tests are offered by Scientologists who are so committed to the cause that they're willing to do things like...well..sit in a filthy subway station and give people stress tests.

The test is simple, really. It consists of gripping two metal cans while the "auditor" asks you a series of questions while carefully watching the dials on the front of the machine for any indications of rising stress levels. The whole thing looks like something out of a 1950's B movie.

As you would expect, there were more than a few "spikes" during the questioning - which lead the auditor into a deeper discussion about what could possibly be causing me stress. He asked about my home life, my job, my relationships. In return, I half-listened while idly wondering if it could be due to:

The steaminess of the subway station which had allowed the evolution of a strain of human sized bacteria that was at that very moment mutating its way over towards me.

The insane homeless man that I'd seen exposing himself as he told passersby that his genitalia was the only true road to salvation and who had been leaning over my shoulder for the entire test, repeatedly whispering in my ear "Those Scientologists are crazy, man. Let go of the cans before they steal your mind, too."

The sudden realization that my feet are resting in a heretofore unnoticed puddle of urine, possibly placing me at risk of electrocution.

And as he suavely moved into his sales pitch for a copy of "Dianetics", which he claimed would change my life, for the small "suggested donation" of $8, I realized that it was none of those things. Instead, it was the near paralyzing fear that this could be the first step in a lifetime of handing over my life savings in return for training that, if completely successful, would turn me into a taller but dramatically less well coiffed version of Tom Cruise.

And, let's be honest here. Nobody wants that - even if it does come with the power to command $20 million per film along with the right to lobotomize, marry, and impregnate the Hollywood starlet of your choice.

Still, it would better than becoming the next John Travolta or Kirstie Allie - both of whom have apparently only reaching the level that allows them to eat non-believers.