Tuesday, June 03, 2014


-3) x (-6)= 18
(-3) x (-6)= 18
That’s right!
Multiply two negatives and you get a positive. There is even a logical explanation for it, I know there is because I just read it, but I’ll be damned if I can explain it back to you.
So, (-3) x (-6)= 18.
That’s the one I’m sure I missed on the College Entrance Exam I took last night.

I was never any good at math.
That’s not true.
Once upon a time I was good at math. Good enough to land myself into an Honors Algebra class. But it was there that I learned how to not do my homework and barely pass. I passed algebra without really being able to do any algebra. That’s a real art man, one that I almost perfected. From there I went on to flunk Geometry, then Chemistry, and find myself as a senior in need of one single math credit in order to graduate from LD Bell.

That’s how I came to walk into room C-3 for my last shot at passing a math for dummies class.  There stood Mr. Barker.
Mr. Barker had been my teacher for those failed Geometry and Chemistry classes. He took one look at me and said “Steve, after I call roll you can go to the office and see about a transfer to a different class if you like.”
I stumbled into my desk and said “No, Mr. Barker, I’m going to pass one of your dumb math classes if it’s the last thing I do” and the whole class busted out laughing.

See, I was one of these guys that sat there, and when the teacher said “Two plus two equals four” I would  loudly  proclaim “Yeah, like when will I ever be able to use THAT out in the real world.”
Well, it didn’t take too long to find out. As a chef I learned to do food costs, and price menus; I figured labor percentages, and planned budgets. I actually spent about a year doing light accounting when I was assistant manager at a restaurant.

Even doing tile work, figuring square footage and how much material was needed for a job I utilized more math skills that I ever would have dreamed of as a young punk. I even got to use the Pythagorean Theorem  (even though Pythagoras didn’t actually invent it; the Incas and Chinese had been using it for a thousand years before he came along, although I shouldn’t slight the man for that) for drawing out a perfect grid for laying a floor.

So I was surprised last night when I took the math portion of the test and did pretty well, except for that darn multiplication of a negative.  I never had to use that in the real world.

But who knows? Just like 2+2=4, it could come in handy someday.
See? I’m learning.

"If a cat can run up and down a tree in a minute, how many times can a cat and a half run up and down a tree and a half in a minute and a half?"

1 comment:

Martijn said...

According to my brother Aron, there's no such thing as negative numbers. (Which I find weird coming from a pre-historian!)

However, loved your story again, Steve. You're the Last of The Great Bloggers.