Don’t Mess With Juju!

<Originally posted October, 2006> Earlier today someone referenced this article from my old blog which will, eventually, be migrated over to my new blog.  However in the meantime I am reposting it.  To be frank the perfect record no longer stands true. –MDG

Don’t Mess With Juju: Even if you are not superstitious it cannot hurt to appease the particular forces of nature!

I do not consider myself to be a superstitious person. I have never worried about breaking mirrors and I remember as a kid intentionally stepping on cracks in the sidewalk. I do not have a lucky number but if I did I would give serious thought to making it thirteen. I do not think I have ever thrown salt over my left shoulder (or right one for that matter) and though I am not a particular fan of cats (allergies) I think the black ones are the sleekest and would gladly let one cross my path.

That being said, there are two routines that I follow religiously when it comes to sitting for certification exams. I do not I will not I cannot change these, and am convinced that if I do I will fail. They are both so hard-wired into my brain that people look at me as if I am nuts.

Firstly, I will not wear a Microsoft shirt the day I am scheduled to sit for an exam. If you have ever met me (at least in the last year) chances are I was wearing a Microsoft shirt; whether it be just Microsoft-branded or a Microsoft Certified Something shirt, I have more of them than most Microsoft employees. I made a business decision that it was a good image as a consultant, so during the week I am almost always wearing logo-ware. Frankly it happens without thinking about it that I wear them on the week-end too; I have a number of clients who are that because they saw me wearing a shirt on the golf course and started talking to me. However if I know I am taking an exam on a given day I will intentionally put on a shirt from the other drawer or side of the closet. I have just always felt that it is tempting fate to flaunt my standing in the community.

The second thing I do is I always have a new package of Jolly Rancher hard candies on the desk. This may sound less weird than eccentric, until I mention that I usually do not even open the package. It is not to eat, but they have to be there. THAT makes it weird. I know it, I accept it, and frankly I do not make any bones about it. It can be argued that I am anal on this matter. An objective observer might think I suffer from OCD. I do not mind, but the bottom line is that I have never passed an exam where I did not have them, and I have never failed an exam where I did.

We all have our routines or patterns we must follow for certain things, and I have learned that these routines are not necessarily transferrable. I recently taught a course in Small Business Server and told the class about my JRs. One of my students met me at my favorite café some weeks later with a long face. He put a package of Jolly Ranchers on the table and said ‘They didn’t help, I still failed.’ I guess the company that makes the candies lost a huge market segment that day with that realization.

In June I was scheduled to take an exam at a strange testing centre. I was not running early by any means but I did show up about 20 minutes before I the scheduled time. I was about to get out of my car when, to my horror, I realized that I had forgotten to stop for Jolly Ranchers. My regular test centre has a convenience store downstairs so I am always good but this centre was new to me, and there was no store in sight. I got back into my car and must have stopped at seven stores, gas stations, whatnot before I found one place that had them. Free retake or not this was an upgrade exam and I was not ready to tempt fate – literally spit in the face of Juju – by changing my routine. I showed up late for the first time in my certification life but I did not care – I had my JRs, and all was right in the world. (To remind me not to tempt fate again Juju did not let me score too well, but well enough to pass.)

Today I sat for an exam that I had very little doubt I would ace. I later joked that my pet fish could have scored a 700 on this exam, and he died on Friday. It did not matter, whatever exam I was writing I am now convinced in the deepest reaches of my being that I need my Juju, so before going up one floor to the testing centre I first went into the basement where the lovely Korean woman knows that when she sees me I am taking an exam. Am I crazy? You can make your own decision about that; the truth is for the USD$125 that each exam costs I do not mind spending the extra $1.25 that the Ranchers cost me if I really believe they help me.

Who knows? Maybe I am out of my mind. Maybe I was just ill-prepared for the few exams I failed. Maybe Juju or Fate or superstition has nothing to do with it. My friend Steph says that it was her undying faith in my intelligence that helped me ace this exam. She says that her faith in me is so strong that it alone will push me over the line from failure into pass if need be… but faith or not she knows that tomorrow when I sit for my exam I will be wearing a golf shirt with no logo, and I will have a brand new pack of Jolly Ranchers on the desk next to me – it has to be a fresh pack because the Juju is drained from the pack to power the exam. Frankly she would probably be disappointed if I didn’t, even if she still takes credit for it.

Of course I go into each exam with the knowledge and belief that the combination of my studying, reviewing, and real world experience are sufficient to pass the exam, but it does not hurt to appease the unknown (and obviously quite particular if peculiar) forces that surround us. I suppose in the end it is not a question of Jolly Ranchers and logos but it is for me. Maybe for you it will be a breakfast of Corn Flakes with whipped cream and a particular pair of running shoes. If you are lucky you do not need anything but if you feel you do – if you think you might just might need that extra something to make it work, then do not feel embarrassed and do not neglect it. After all, even the best of us need all the Juju we can get!

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