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.