Monday, December 6, 2010

Don't Count On It

Another day, another failure at applying mathematics to real-world situations. I wish I would have worked a TITCH harder in 3rd grade math. Without that basic comprehension, I also have no concept of estimating, budgeting, or distance. Prinna and I did some shopping last night, and we were reminded why neither she nor I have any business using numbers. We stood at the check-out counter, trying to figure out the pricing, additional costs, a discount, and really trying to add everything up in our head (what are we, Einstein!?!). Then our heads exploded and flew across the counter, splattering on the register.

The whole mathy mess just reminded me that my life has been one long Numbers-Induced panic attack, interrupted by life, writing, talking, organizing closets, multi-tasking, shopping, and other things I excel at. I remember doing times tables in 4th grade, and that’s literally the last memory I have of learning math. After that, it’s just panic.

In high school, I called home in a whispering panic. Perek, who must have been like 14 at the time, picked up. “Perek! I’m in line in Target. I have like $8 in my account, and I’m buying gum and a diet Coke. How much is the tax going to be? Do I have enough or do I have to put back the gum?!” He was silent. He took a deep breath and said, “Pharon, yes. Tax is only going to be like 13 cents. It’s 7 percent of the total.” I stopped listening after “yes” and got both the gum AND the pop. Later that same year, I was working at Gap Kids. I rung someone up, and it came to something like $13.60. The woman handed me a ten, a five, and a dime. I stared at the dime, not knowing how to make change. The woman said, “Honey, just give me back $1.50.” Idiot.

I also have no concept of time or distance. The clock in my car is, obnoxiously, exactly 25 minutes fast. I explained my very complex reasoning behind the clock setting to Geo this weekend, but I totally lost him. I said, “If I don’t know how long it takes to get somewhere, I know I automatically have 25 minutes longer, instead of looking at the real time and having to guess based on the exact time.” I mean, even me just WRITING THAT OUT reminds me that it’s nonsense.

My poor, poor dad. My dad is THE numbers guy. He can add two sets of two-digit numbers IN HIS HEAD! Imagine his horrifying disappointment when I made it explicitly clear that I was a total math moron. I was in college, home for a break. I wanted to visit my friend Madeline in Chicago. My mom suggested, “Do you have any frequent flyer miles? Just use those.” So, I called to make the reservations. When I hung up the phone, I said “Huh, I didn’t realize Chicago was so far away.” My dad was standing next to me reading the mail and said “What do you mean?” I said “Apparently, it’s 25,000 miles away. I though it was a little less than that.”

He asked me what in God’s name made me think Chicago was that far away. I said “That’s how many frequent flyer miles it takes.” So, not only do I not understand distances, but I clearly have no concept of how airline miles work either. My dad sighed, and stared out the window as if he could see my college tuition flying out of it. “Pharon, Chicago is not 25,000 miles away. The entire circumference of the world is about 25,000 miles.” Facepalm.

Well, despite my lack of basic arithmetic abilities, I’ve managed to survive this long without them. I have tons of other stuff I’m good at that, in my opinion, totally outweigh the “cool” ability to figure out a tip at a restaurant (which, for the record, my phone calculator does perfectly every single time). I can organize anything, I‘m a sick doodler, I can small talk with the best of ‘em, and I can pull up any celebrity fact in any situation. My mind is already chockfull of that kind of useful information. So yeah, there’s no room at the Inn for math. You know what that means? Apparently, Math is my Jesus. Merry Mathmas!


Pharon said...

So, an ad just popped up on my home screen: "Sylan Learnging - Is your child having trouble with fractions?" Yeah, my "child" is having trouble...

Grandmaman said...

Who needs math with a vocabulary like yours, let alone an amazing ability to use it!

Madeline said...

I think someone was trying to teach us NUMEROUS lessons with that trip to Chicago! If you'll recall, that's the same trip I got pulled over for speeding after picking you up and we had to name 3 members of the cabinet to get out of the ticket! I feel like there was another totally ridiculous mathematical error from that trip too..maybe something about the number of passengers on the plane??

Pharon said...

OH MY GOD, Madeline! You are totally right! I forgot that one! Okay, so Madeline picked me up from the airport, and asked me how big the plane was. I tried to estimate the number of passengers, but couldn't even venture to guess.

So, I whipped out a piece of paper and DREW in the rows, then made X's in all the seats, and then counted the X's.

Forty-five minutes, later, Madeline got an answer to a question she'd already forgotten she had asked.

And for the record: We DID name 3 members of the Cabinet, and totes got out of the ticket! Yay for the Chicago police department!

Madeline said...

ummm...except I'm pretty sure that the number of passengers you came up with was something like 482...which we promptly realized would be the biggest plane ever...I think we gave up trying to figure it out after that...

oh Pharon..we have so much in common...I'm glad we're besties..