So, the other day it took my co-worker and me 10 minutes to solve a math problem. And by “solve” I mean we got it wrong and then googled it and then we got the right answer. And really, let’s be honest: now that we have Google, who needs math?
Though that has always sort of been my stance on math because, being the forward thinker that I am, I totally knew that someone math-smart would create something like Google and then we totally wouldn’t need math anymore. Or calculators. Or really, any part of our brains at all.
Let’s keep in mind that I went into a professional field that didn’t even know math in high school. I mean, if math and publishing even went to the same school, which is doubtful, they never hung out and they certainly never looked each other in the eye. I mean, for real, math, you intimidate me and I’ve done everything in my power to avoid you my entire life.
Also, I’m known in my family as “the funny one.” So, you know, that’s a nice way of saying I’m not good at math. And my sister is also funny, plus good at math, so they were seriously reaching and couldn’t think of anything unique. But I’ll take it.
However, the awesome part about this math story (and there are so many to choose from!) was when my co-worker said “You seem like someone who is good at math, can you help me figure this out?” And then I sat there in all my glory of looking smart for a moment before telling him the story about how I confused my parents with my math skills so much that they hired me a tutor who I also confused into never wanting to do math again.
First of all, I should preface this by saying that it’s very possible that I’m just a mad genius with math skills so amazing that other people can’t even comprehend what I’m doing. Or, I’m for-real math dyslexic. Either way, though, after covering our kitchen table with my tears for years, and my dad’s blood pressure rising higher than is healthy for a human, my parents must’ve convened behind closed doors, prayed that I marry rich, and started searching for a tutor.
So, the poor soul they came up with was a nice senior at our high school who was friends with my sister – who was good at math, by the way, but shockingly didn’t want to help me? Confusing. Anyway, I met with the tutor every Sunday for, like, a billion hours a day for what felt like 18 years, but I think was maybe only one hour a week for a semester. Whatever. So, I’d show him what I had to do for homework, my notes, he’d try to teach me how to think like a normal person who’s brain doesn’t reject math, and then I’d “work” some practice problems.
And then it’d happen.
I’d start “working” that problem and a growing look of concern would come over the tutor’s face…then a slight twinge of confusion…and then utter horror would take over. To me, this was just what people’s faces looked like when I did math, so I saw no reason to be alarmed.
But then he’d finally explode in a math-induced rage and we’d have a conversation like this (every week):
Him: “What are you doing?”
Him: “But….but…..how did you do that?”
Me: “Hmmm, I don’t know, did I get the right answer?”
Him: “Well, you actually got the right answer…..but that’s definitely not the right way to do it and I don’t even understand what I’m looking at.”
Me: “Yay! I got the right answer!”
Him: “Not the point.”
Me: “So are we done? I have to go watch my taped episode of the Oprah Show with the New Kids on the Block and pretend I’m Jordan Knight’s girlfriend in the audience.”
See? I’m totally not bad at math, I’m just innovative.
But apparently, the point of math – which is so ridiculous and one of the major reasons why we never saw eye-to-eye – is to do the whole “working” of the problem correctly. Um, if a surgeon is repairing my heart during surgery, and he uses a technique that they didn’t teach him in school but he still fixes my heart, you know what I call that? Still being alive when I come out of surgery. Which is a success. So you can bite me, math.
But whatever, the moral of this awesome story is really twofold: (1) I look like someone who is good at math, and in my world, that’s good enough for me, and (2) Google has saved the world.