Recently, I have received many requests from young and old alike, asking what it takes to become a street rod journalist. Before you jump to conclusions, there really is a level of knowledge and talent that's required. Notwithstanding is the fact you had best enjoy all things with mechanical moving parts and, especially, if they have wheels, tires, and consume copious quantities of fossil fuel.
For starters, being an automotive journalist doesn't come easy. The part about liking cars, wanting to live "la vita car," is the easy part. The hard part is passing all those general knowledge tests to earn the right to have your name on the masthead of any automotive title, especially STREET RODDER.
Following are some typical questions we ask aspiring candidates. Before getting into the questions, I should tell you the results of several staff members. For instance, our newest staff member, Chris Shelton, a bright lad with a well-rounded college education did pretty well--he actually got most of the questions correct. (Chris happened to share the same major at the same university that I graduated from, so I fully understand just how smart he really thinks he is!)
Our Technical Editor Ron Ceridono, on the other hand, comes from an educator's background, which would make him a prime candidate to score well. He did, but for another reason. Turns out, Ron's old and he has lived in and/or through a number of events making him a part of history, hence ineligible to answer historic questions because of this anomaly. The remainder of the staff did well, but their scores are being withheld until the accounting firm of Arthur Anderson can verify it--you know, the people who told us Enron was making money.
You are ready to take your Potential Evaluating Automotive Journalistic Comprehensive Two-Part Test. The first part deals with answering general knowledge questions that will pinpoint your mental acuity--sort of a mental dexterity meets verbal volleyball aptitude. The second part is the intangible. Have you seen the movie Rudy? It's the story of the talent-challenged individual who has the heart to overcome all adversity, regardless of the odds. You must do well in this area in particular if you are to have a snowball's chance in Louisville in August of making it in the magazine biz. Trust me!
The questions are below and you will find the answers at the end of this editorial. Educators (the ones with the upper and lower case letters after their last names) say that if you can get four or more correct, you are in rarified air--that means you are really sharp. If you score "0," well!
1) How long did the Hundred Years War last?2) Which country makes Panama hats?3) From which animal do we get catgut? 4) In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution?5) What is a camel's hair brush made of? 6) The Canary Islands in the Pacific are named after what animal?7) What was King George VI's first name? 8) What color is a purple finch?9) Where are Chinese gooseberries from?
Now, fellow rodders, don't get your boxers in a bunch if the questions appear to be trick, 'cause they're not! I believe you will find the answers enlightening.
Remember, I said that the test was a two-parter. Here comes the second and most important part. It's this segment you need to score well to give you the inside track, an insight into the industry that will bode well for a successful career. Just look at the staff of SRM--hmmm.
How many times have you been in a meeting (at work, on the athletic field, etc...) when the person charged with monitoring the results wants you to give a 100 percent, or the real go-getter asks for 103 percent? We have all been there. What I find so interesting is the one that asks for this 100-plus effort is generally one who has nothing to do with the actual work. I guess it's always easier to tell someone they should work harder when you don't have to do the work yourself.
Since my personality functions best when dealing with the absolutes, I am very fond of the following math for achieving life's 100 percent effort. This is the area that you must excel in order to become an individual who is paid to play with car parts and write it down so that you, the reader, can then get excited and go out and play with your own parts, or something along those lines.
Since our industry deals with words, the alphabet is fundamental. Imagine, if you will, that each letter corresponds to a number. For instance, A = 1; B = 2; C = 3; D = 4; and so on until we reach Z = 26. Pretty simple, uh, something that the beautiful mind of John Nash would have imagined.
Now the fun part: To be a member of the STREET RODDER staff you must be able to endure H-A-R-D W-O-R-K, which represents 8+1+18+4+23+15+18+11 = 98 percent. You have almost achieved your goal with just hard work, but that isn't enough; you must also possess K-N-O-W-L-E-D-G-E. Now, that equals 11+14+15+23+12+5+4+7+5 = 96 percent. Hmmm, it would appear that while hard work and knowledge are important, they alone will not get you to the required level that every automotive journalist must achieve.
Anyone out there who has had the good (or not so good) fortune to spend any time with a magazine type knows we possess a bit of an A-T-T-I-T-U-D-E. This isn't meant as a negative, as it takes a great deal of inner strength and personal confidence to let it hang out each and every month for the world to scrutinize. Let's see, attitude adds up to 1+20+20+9+20+21+4+5 = 100 percent. So, having attitude isn't a bad thing--it's a necessary element. Now we are getting somewhere. But still others are putting in the same effort; how can the aspiring journalist separate himself (or herself) from the rest?
Now to possess the real inner fiber that will make you a winner in this dog-eat-dog world. It's B-U-L-L; 19+8+9+20, which adds up to 103 percent. See it stands to reason that hard work and knowledge will get you close, but attitude and bull will put you over the top. Oh yes, remember to check the answers below to see how you fared. How did I do, you ask? Well, I achieved a perfect score--think about it.
ANSWERS1) 116 years. 2) Ecuador. 3) Sheep and Horses. 4) November.5) Squirrel fur. 6) Dogs (Presa Canario).7) Albert.8) Crimson.9) New Zealand.