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April 15th, 2019 Leave A Comment

Talkers, Why God Created Calculators

I’m terrible at Math. Not really terrible, I just don’t have a math mind. And I believe that calculators are one of man’s best friends. I’ve always enjoyed words more than numbers. While I love to read, and I enjoy writing I was born to talk.

Mrs. Lucy Canter my first grade teacher wrote on my fall report card “He does enjoy talking to his friends.” In April she said “Work habits are satisfactory but still must watch his talking to his friends.” That same year, my mother wrote a comment back to her on the spring report card “We are concerned about his talking. Can you let us know if moving his seat has helped?” C’mon mom!!! Whose side are you on?

Second Grade, Mrs. Elsie Haegele in 3 out of 5 Arithmetic grades “NI” – needs improvement. I was so unaware of math and numbers. For Show and Tell one day I brought a book in and got up to say that I was going to talk about Life Magazine’s book The History of World War Eleven. What was a Roman numeral? There were two one’s next to each other on the cover, you know World War II. I couldn’t understand why kids in the class were snickering.

Mrs. Lent my Fifth Grade teacher noted in the comments section of my report card “in math, Tim needs lots of practice on fundamental skills.” She caught me talking to a classmate after passing a note and decided that I wasn’t interested in math, which was true enough. At that moment she gave up and essentially called a truce between me and math saying “Okay Tim, if you don’t want to learn math, you don’t have to learn math. You just sit there quietly and you won’t have to do math.” I’m not kidding that was what she said and she followed through. I was thrilled. Yippee! I thought. That suited me just fine. And I got a passing grade. If you thought that Social Promotion was a recent practice, I’ve got news for you, it existed in the early 60’s for me.

My Seventh Grade math teacher Mr. Griffin was more interested in practicing golf, his putting to be exact – literally in the classroom, than teaching math. I ended up with a “D” for the year. I wouldn’t have passed even if he was actually teaching – so it was off to summer school for me. All I had to do there was show up, which I did and I got a C. Yippee! again.

For those of us in Section 13 of 8th grade, Montgomery County Public Schools, Newport Mill Junior High, Mrs. Denit had a great idea about math as far as I was concerned. She announced early in the school year that if we did not understand the homework problems – a forgone conclusion for me, that all we had to do was copy down each problem on paper and turn that in and we would get full credit! Another Yippee! moment. Final grade for the year “C”. I must not have copied very well or very many homework assignments.

Max Crowell taught Pre- Algebra at Riverdale Baptist School. A grade of 72 was passing. For whatever reason I was in his classroom while he was averaging my grades for the year. He calculated and seemed to doodle around on the paper for a while. Then he looked at me and said “Tim Cate, I’m going to round this 71.2 to 71.5 so I can round it up to 72 and you’re outta here.” I was ecstatic! He showed up at our 20 year reunion and I reminded him of what he had done for me – of course he had completely forgotten but I thanked him once again.

Talkers are why God created calculators. Now and then when someone asks me what I do, I say that I get paid to talk and that’s pretty accurate. And I am particularly thankful for online calculators and conversion websites such as liters to ounces and millimeters to inches because programs like these are what enable me to do what I do best, talk.

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