Monday, September 25, 2006

Eight six seven five, something something something...

I'm a math officianado. I aced calculus in college - hardly studied. Differential equations was harder, but manageable and sometimes, when I'm having trouble sleeping, I imagine myself doing integrals and derivatives as if they're deep breaths for my mind. Geometry is my meditation. So whenever someone throws out a math problem, as is bound to happen when you're standing in line at Old Navy, I'm the Johnny-on-the-spot. I always help calculate the sale price on the pink flip-flops or estimate the gross national product of China. Because the wheels spin upstairs and numbers start a-rolling around and falling into place and then, because I have poor verbal impulse control I shout out the answer before Jim can clamp his hand over my mouth (he knows that cross-eyed glazed look means I'm either about to yell out numbers or puke). But I have to let you in on a little secret: I'm usually wrong. In fact? I think I have number dyslexia coupled with short-term number memory loss. I have issues remembering phone numbers, dates, ages, social security numbers, heights, widths, all of it. Do you know me? Do you know I used to be an engineer? Yes, if you're wondering - this disability sometimes came up. But I have to let you in on another secret: I'm also a really good liar.

I think the first time I realized the calculator in my head was wonkey I was a junior in high school. I was already kicking ass at formal math classes, but mostly because it was trig. You know sines, cosines, secants. You don't know? Loser! (Sorry, I'm also a math snob, and I already mentioned about the poor verbal impulse control...) Anyway, my friend was a cashier at Olympic Drug and she was sure the manager-slash-pharmacist - a deacon in her fundy church - would be able to find some hours for me. Whoo-hoo! Something better than cleaning the bathrooms and food court in the mall! And the job was significantly better paying, but dreary. Facing shelves all day. Occasionally making a key. Unloading boxes of vaseline and Suave. Then after a couple weeks I graduated to cashier. The 50-year-old lifer that trained me was a stickler for Doing It the Janice Way. A good way, but still, the way for an idiot who didn't have my superior brain-matter. So after a day of scanning rubbers and distilled water, I cashed out, added the change in the till and, uh, did it a few more times, checked the numbers again, and chalked it up to first day jitters. I sheepishly admitted to Janice, of Doing It the Janice Way fame, I was a dollar eighty short. The next day I was $14 over. The next day I was in a hurry to get to Homecoming, and I was just a few cents short. But the next day I was $55 short. There was no next day. I wrote it off as insignificant. Like Michael Jordan missing a 16-foot jumper in warm-ups. But it was really just the beginning. More like the Washington Generals losing the first of 18622 games against the Globetrotters.

I graduated high school and declared to everyone who would listen that I was going to be an engineer because I was a braggart and a big fish in a little, stunted pond. Suprisingly, even with my handicap I made it through 4 years of numbers. Numbers disguised as thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, physical chemistry, engineering process control, and more, but I'll stop before you enter a REM cycle. And then I graduated and got hired. That's a different interesting story, but let's just say my first couple engineering jobs were secured and retained on my charm. Or not so much charm, but personality not often seen in the field of engineering. That is to say, I had a personality, and they kept me around as a novelty. And because I didn't mind donning steel-toed boots and operating a jackhammer in the middle of summer. There's something about a sweaty 22-year-old in a little white t-shirt running a large vibrating tool. I got a raise pretty quickly. I mean, I started making more money.

After working at a few different places that appreciated my charm, I graduated to the big leagues. An engineering job in which the curve of my breast meant about as much as the curve of my fastball. I worked for an Indian man who worked for a Taiwanese guy, who worked for another Taiwanese dude, and the three of them together formed a virtual Trinity of Manager Hell. Which I may go to after saying that. Aaaaaannnnd we'll save that story for next time, complete with forgotten numbers and lots of lying, including a tidy wrap-up and a cute anecdote about a boy in a cast. Until then, may your tits stay up and your beer stay down.


Anonymous DD said...

Your charm was even more appreciated in "manager hell" - especially by your fellow inmates ;)

and how did you know about my excitable man-tits?

9/25/2006 10:38 PM  
Blogger V-Grrrl said...

So you can write and do advanced calculus? Not fair.

My husband is an engineer--but he arrived at his engineering degree by taking nearly every math class twice. His summers were full of academic re-runs. I so admire his tenacity and the fact that he eventually got respectable grades in classes he struggled mightily with. I would have given up.

9/25/2006 11:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG - I can SO totally relate to this post! It's a little scary actually...

I, too, am an engineer by trait.

I, too, am taking advantage of the occasional low neckline or short hemline. A good fitting pair of skinny pants with just the right amount of spandex or lycra or whatever - when paired with a thong just MIGHT have helped me land my last promotion.

I am not ashamed... but do have pangs of guilt from time to time.

Still digress... I, too, failed the cash register test in HS and ended up on early morning shift making donuts and baking cookies in the bakery. The disgrace of it all. But DAMN I got to eat the broken (accidentally?) cookies!!

It's pretty cool to know there are other kindred spirits out there just like me - or at least a little like me.

Want to hear the really freaky part... I started reading this blog because I, too, have a son named Quinn. A most unusual name in these parts - and most suitable for a cool kid!

Looking forward to the "rest of the story!"

9/26/2006 6:02 AM  
Blogger Mignon said...

Mark, I always thought those of us with personality were in some kind of test of character. You won a big prize, dude. And thanks for the TMI on the man tits. That tendency of yours - sharing extremely personal info - I forgot about that. I miss you!

V-Grrrl - your hubby has one up on me. I never actually got respectable grades. I could do the stuff, but in reality I never liked it and each problem set posed a new and different hell.

Anon! Well hi. Can you at least give yourself a pretend name? Anyway, it's nice to know you're out there, although I'm glad I never worked with you in my former career. Skinny pants??? Beeyahtch!

9/26/2006 7:22 AM  
Anonymous Kara said...

LOL - You can tell I'm a comment-leaving novice.

I'm Kara from OH

9/26/2006 7:56 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I think what you're experiencing might be Yuppie Alzheimer's, a result of needing to know waayyy too many digits. Think about it: PIN codes, cell/home/work plus extention #s, addresses and exits and routes and minutes cooked and credit card and Social Security for us, our fellas and kids, budgeting - it goes on forever. My final on math is this: When you figure out what X really is, call me and then I'll attempt algebra. Until then, don't tell me I'm wrong when you're saying it's arbitrary.

9/26/2006 10:07 AM  
Blogger Tink said...

"May your tits stay up and your beer stay down" *Snort* I think you should make that your new slogan.

"I realized the calculator in my head was wonkey" At least you HAVE a calculator in your head. The space where mine should be is filled with dust and a sign that reads "Out for lunch."

9/26/2006 12:59 PM  
Blogger meno said...

I too was (it's been a while) good at calculus, differential equations and that crap, but i cannot do simple math worth beans. I once missed getting 100 on a calculus test because 2 x 6 does not =18. It was in a class where the teacher wouldn't let us use calculators. Bitch!

9/26/2006 2:40 PM  
Blogger mamalujo1 said...

Blogger ate my wonderful comment from earlier today. It was so fucking awesome, just so you know. I'm terrible at math, especially at measuring things. I'm definitely right-brained. And right-nutted. I think it's part of what makes me so masculine.

Didja know I have a twelve inch pecker? No kidding! That's what this European measuring stick says anyway.

9/26/2006 5:20 PM  
Anonymous Yolanda said...

I did well in all of my engineering math courses right up until differential equations, for some reason it never sunk in for me (I like to blame the crappy teacher). I feel a few hives growing when you mention thermo though. Definitely got my initial engineering jobs on personality and left engineering because I'd like to keep my happy personality :)

"May your tits stay up and your beer stay down" this line is so classic in ever way- love it

9/26/2006 7:16 PM  
Anonymous LetterB said...

I was okay at anything that didn't need arithmatic (trig was the only math class I ever got an A in for instance). I still break out in a sweat when i need to multiply say, 8 x 7.

Can't wait for the rest of the story...

9/26/2006 7:35 PM  
Anonymous wordgirl said...

I suck at math. I'm not stupid, but my brain isn't wired for quickness with numbers. Words are another thing.

9/26/2006 8:13 PM  
Anonymous JMo said...

I hereby submit proof that engineering requires no math skills: I can't balance my checkbook without a calculator but I have been successfully employed as an engineer for almost 11 years...

Sadly, the unholy trinity is also still employed.

We miss you here in the depths of Hell!

9/27/2006 2:37 PM  
Blogger Orange said...

I kicked ass at math...until senior year of high school, when calculus kicked my ass. Algebra and trig, though, I loved. I'm definitely a word aficionado, and also have poor verbal impulse control because I'll tell you that you spelled that word wrong in your first sentence.

My tits are up only because of the underwire.

9/28/2006 10:47 AM  
Anonymous TB said...

Man I envy anyone who can do any sort of math. I can't do much more than make change. I seriously tried to remember how to do fractions the other day and I came up with nothing. Thankfully, Jeff is also an engineer so he will be in charge of helping Sam I Am with his homework.

And sadly, due to the miracle of pregnancy, my tits aren't so "up" anymore either.

9/28/2006 4:42 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home