Since 1982, teams have used the NFL Combine to assess the abilities of potential draft picks. For the rest of us, there is the Life Combine, an event dedicated to assessing the everyday life skills of the general population.
Rather than running us through evaluations such as the 20-yard shuttle and Wonderlic test, administrators of the Life Combine run folks like you and I through common life exercises, such as going on a first date, riding a subway, or proceeding through airport security. Most perform rather well, but the event has certainly seen its share of abject failures.
These are the worst performances in the history of the Life Combine.
EVALUATION: PICKING OUT A PRESENT FOR A FRIEND'S KID.
Participant must attend the birthday party of a friend's child, and demonstrate his/her ability to choose a thoughtful and appropriate gift.
Worst score: Participant No. 67, 2003 Life Combine
Participant presented his friend's nine-year-old daughter with a laminated identification badge, hooked to a lanyard, that he received from a motivational business seminar he attended two years prior. The badge was autographed by the event's keynote speaker, retired journeyman catcher Damon Berryhill, who last played for the San Francisco Giants in 1997. The ink had, in large part, worn off the plastic laminate, so Participant attempted to restore Mr. Berryhill's signature, in effect forging it. The front of the badge read:
Damon Berryhill Seminar Series 2001, Lakeland, FL: How I conquered my personal "Damon"s to round the bases of life ... and how you can, too!
The nine-year-old recipient, when pressed, admitted that she was unfamiliar with Mr. Berryhill, at which point Participant told her to "stop grounding into double plays of life and get a clue already, you [expletive] short idiot."
EVALUATION: FILING INCOME TAXES.
Participant must demonstrate his/her ability to properly prepare and submit a 1040 income tax form prior to April 15th.
Worst score: Participant No. 8, 2010 Life Combine
Upon realizing that the deadline for submitting his 1040 form was several weeks late, Participant hastily stuffed his return in a manila envelope and deposited it in what he reckoned to be the nearest government-operated receptacle, which in this particular case was a sewer grate. The form was filled out as follows:
EVALUATION: SOCIALIZING AT A PARTY.
Participant must demonstrate his/her ability to attend a party with people he/she may not necessarily be acquainted with, engage in conversation, cast a positive impression, and "have a good time."
Worst score: Participant No. 77, 1997 Life Combine
Participant, who was invited as a courtesy by a neighbor she barely knew, forgot to bring any food or drinks to the party and quickly developed a complex. Participant calculated the value of the things she would eat or drink there, divided by the number of partygoers, and issued each one a check for 24 cents, each time offering a superfluous explanation of the funds issued and an assurance that a negotiation process would be appropriate if the amount were considered insufficient.
Participant spent the next hour in the corner of the room in silence, pretending to sip beer from a plastic cup (she could not figure out how to operate the keg, but was too proud to ask for help). Participant eventually wandered around the house and loitered by herself in the master bedroom, absent-mindedly opening drawers and cabinets. Upon discovery by the hosts, Participant mumbled something about being "bored," and asked, "can I have this end table? Just, like, to have." When the hosts refused, Participant attempted and failed to fit her entire fist into her mouth.
EVALUATION: GOING ON A FIRST DATE.
Participant must demonstrate his/her ability to arrange a first date with someone, converse pleasantly, present positive qualities, and leave the door open for a second date.
Worst score: Participant No. 12, 2011 Life Combine
Participant arrived at the date wearing a T-shirt bearing the UPN logo, and immediately launched into a synopsis of every show broadcast by the defunct television network. After 10 minutes he looked down at his promotional "Homeboys in Outer Space" digital plastic wristwatch, and declared, "Hey, I got some Nowhere Man episodes at home. Wanna watch one and then get to bonin'?" She promptly ended the date and left, at which point he raised his arms, palms up, and declared to nearby tables, "see? There's the friend zone right there. Just got friendzoned. Friendzone much? Friend. Frickin'. Zone."
EVALUATION: MOVING THROUGH AIRPORT SECURITY.
Participant must demonstrate his/her ability to swiftly process himself/herself through a screening process prior to commercial air travel.
Worst score: Participant No. 89, 2005 Life Combine
Participant used an entire screening tray to hold nothing but a box of condoms. Participant waited for various parties, fellow travelers and TSA agents alike, to notice said condoms, and then remarked, "Business or pleasure, you ask? Little bit o' both, m'man. Little bit o' both. Heh."
While in the X-ray screening, Participant observed the illustration of a person raising its arms above his head, and took it to mean that he was supposed to clap his hands. Upon clapping his hands, a TSA agent instructed him to stop, at which point he apologized and began clapping more vigorously. Before being escorted away by security, Participant inquired whether "y'all liked lookin' at m'big ol' dong."
EVALUATION: RIDING THE SUBWAY.
Participant must demonstrate his/her ability to navigate a subway system and display proper etiquette while riding a subway car.
Worst score: Participant No. 90, 1983 Life Combine
Participant was uncommonly excited about her first time riding the subway, and elected to prepare refreshments for fellow passengers. Participant spent 20 minutes gingerly walking from the turnstile to the boarding area, balancing serving trays of lemon squares and small paper Dixie cups, decorated with puff paints and glitter and filled with chocolate milk.
Upon boarding the car, Participant grinned ear-to-ear and announced, "Happy Tuesday mornin'! I brought you fine folks some snacks to eat! Y'sure look hungry!" When nobody looked up or acknowledged her announcement, Participant grew embarrassed. "No big deal if y' don't want any lemon squares," she said. "Baked'm myself, though, an' --" At that point, the car jerked to a halt at the next station, and Participant lost her balance and fell.
A group of youths mocked her as she sat in the middle of the car, covered in chocolate milk. She began to cry. She was old in 1983 so she is probably dead now.