Before I was born, my mother worked at a bank. My father began his career as a toolmaker and machinist. They are both good at math. My brother has a Ph.D. and is good at math along with a lot of other things. Ken is good at math. Kate is exceptional at math, having taken advanced calculus, and is able to do computer coding. Me? I am sh*tty at math. I’m like the middle of a very mathematical Venn Diagram where the middle is someone with no ability to work with numbers AT ALL, and that person is playing with a puppy and laughing at memes about cats, and if you’re saying to yourself right now, “That’s not how Venn diagrams work!”, let me once again remind you that I AM NO GOOD AT MATH. At work, I’m responsible for cashing customers out at the till, and there’s one regular who INSISTS on waiting until I’ve punched the amount of money he gave me into the computer, then also INSISTS on changing the amount of money he gave me just so he can laugh while I try to figure out how much change I owe him.
And the point of this very self-deprecating prologue is to set up the following story. Ken came home the other day and said, “I was at the bank and they’re looking for part-time help. I’d love to do it but I already have 7 volunteer jobs and 3 paying jobs so I don’t think I’d have time. But it’s right across the street so why don’t you apply?”
I didn’t hear him at first because I was trying to mentally add up how many jobs he had (10! The answer is 10!), but then I thought about how nice it would be not to have to drive on a very busy highway every day to get to my current job. So I printed off a resume and went over. The people there were lovely, and after chatting with the manager, I had a good vibe, but then this happened:
Manager: So you can count money, right?
Me: Count money?
Manager: Part of the job is being able to count.
Me (laughs lightly): Of course I can count.
And I wasn’t lying—I really CAN count but…how much and how high are we talking here?! On the way home, I was really quiet:
Ken: What’s wrong?
Me: What have I done?! What if I get an interview and there’s a MATH TEST? The closest I’ve ever come to doing math professionally was teaching Life Of Pi!
Ken: You’re worrying too much. It’s not like you’d have to be doing calculus—it’s probably just basic math.
And then I felt better and remembered that I used to help Kate with her math homework, and that always went well:
Kate: Math, math, blah, blah, dividing by zero.
Me: Oh, that’s easy. Whenever you divide by zero, you end up with the same number you started with. Like 15 divided by zero is 15.
Kate: No, it’s not! You can’t divide by zero.
Me: Sure you can. I have 15 things. There’s zero things that go into it, so I still have 15 things.
Kate: That’s NOT how it works. It’s impossible. See, if I put 15 divided by zero into my calculator, it says “Error”.
Me: I paid good money for that calculator—what’s wrong with it?
Kate: Nothing! You just can’t divide by zero.
Me: But I just did.
Kate: But you’re wrong. Zero would go into 15 an infinite number of times, so it can’t be calculated.
Me: But I just calculated it.
Kate: NO, YOU DIDN’T.
Me: Look. If you have 15 slices of bacon, and you try to divide them by zero, how many slices of bacon do you have left? 15! Because you have eaten zero of them!
Kate: 15 is the REMAINDER!…IS there bacon?
Me: Sure. Do you want 15 slices or zero?
Anyway, I have an interview on Tuesday, so wish me luck. I’m counting on it.