Each Monday, your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from basements, thrift stores, estate sales and flea markets around Los Angeles.

Competency Achievement Packets: Vehicles and the Law and Interpersonal Family Relationships

Date: 1982

Publisher: Los Angeles Unified School District

Discovered at: Bible Tabernacle Thrift Store, 733 Lincoln Blvd., Venice

The Cover Promises: You, the citizen, are best represented through Wiccan symbology.

Representative Quote:

“Decide which items below describe a person who might be refused a California Driver's License:

You are not a U.S. citizen.

You are thirteen years old.

You are on welfare.

You cannot understand simple traffic laws.

You are a woman.

You faint two or three times every day.”

Just 28 years ago, the fact that women can drive was a matter for the test.

Or it was for students enrolled in CAP, the Los Angeles school district's “competency based” career and continuing education programs.

Dedicated to the belief that the best students might achieve is a baseline competence, the good folks behind CAP worked up pamphlets and quizzes meant to teach the most raw of basics: how to get a driver's license, why you shouldn't drive drunk, and what you should do if you aren't enjoying sex with your spouse.

Welcome to CAP, from the district's Competency-Based Education Program, an attempt at getting adult students through this thing called life.

Despite a tough economy, the California schools of 1982 could somehow afford the finest in clip art.

Another weird thing about '82:

Jails were built of bacon and xylophones.

It might be hard to imagine a student who would need to be told that driver's licenses can be held by women. But CAPs took on the mission of stating plainly the truths few of us have ever needed to speak out loud.

Here's more from the earlier question: “Decide which items below describe a person who might be refused a California Driver's License”:

“You lied on your driver's license application.

You came from a West European country.

You are a Democrat.

You cannot pass the driver's test.

You are high on uppers most of the time.

You are a Catholic.

You owe a great deal of money to a department store.”

Quizzes like that seem designed to dispel misinformation. Quizzes like this next one, however, have more practical aims:

The actual answer:

“If you must choose, then go with Tom. But it would be better to call a cab.”

So, competence is . . . vaguely regretting your drunk driving.

This same issue comes up in another CAP pamphlet, “Interpersonal Family Relationships.” This pamphlet exists because families are almost as tricky as cars. Here, all the complex ticklishness of real-life marital relations are boiled down to multiple-choice questions:

Jose and Juanita are at a party. Jose has had too many drinks. Juanita is worried that he will not be able to drive home. What should she do?

A. Tell him that he's no good and that she is leaving alone.

B. Tell his best friend to drive him home.

C. Tell him that she wants to drive them home.

The Answer: “C. She does not have to remind him that he has had too much to drink. She can be nice and offer to drive.”

So, competence is . . . bottling up your human reaction to the problems you secretly fix!


“When Anita and Ralph fight, Ralph hits Anita hard enough to loosen her teeth. He always says he's sorry. What might they do?

A. Anita should leave and go to her father's house and call the Family Service Administration.

B. Anita should threaten him with a knife or gun.

C. Ralph should send Anita roses, in apology.”

The Answer: “A. They should get help soon with this problem.”

So, competence is . . . Christ, is the L.A. Unified School District truly implying that women trapped in abusive relationships are simply incompetent?

Shocking Detail:

Looking for a way to connect with your kids? Why not dream up some crime-scene chalk outlines?


Bonus Crap!

Speaking of too-quick solutions to serious personal problems, here's the perfect gift for any big-and-tall blowhards in your life this holiday season:

Yes, a full rack of Italian suits once worn by TV's Dr. Phil, that guy who bullies his patients about how they shouldn't let people bully them anymore.

You can find these at the UCLA Thrift Shop at 11271 Massachusetts Avenue. The jackets are monogrammed:

So let's hope your big-and-tall gift receiver is really into Portland Community Media or Professional Crisis Management .

I turned this up in one of his pockets.

Here's a two-step CAP on how to fix people, Dr. Phil-style:

1. Know nothing of your patients before attempting therapy.

2. Strip away each patients' individuality.

Look for more CAPs soon in Studies in Crap!

Also, join the tasteful dozens who have elected to follow the new @studiesincrap on Twitter!

LA Weekly