Thinking Outside The Box

, , , , , , | Learning | July 19, 2020

I am a private tutor. I’ve given one of my students, a fifth-grader, an exercise which I call “reverse word problems”. The student gets a list of equations, and for each equation, they have to come up with a word problem that could fit the given equation. I am reading the answers he’s written.

Me: “You’re a scientist with four-fifth of a dead cow. You’re in a duplication room and you duplicate two-fifths of it. How much of a cow do you have?”

The equation for this one was “4/5 x 2/5.”

Me: *Laughing* “A… a scientist with a dead cow? Really, kid?”

Student: *Giggles* “Well, obviously. It has to be a dead cow. If you have four-fifths of a cow, how can it possibly still be alive?”

Me: *Pause* “You got me there.”

I keep reading.

Me: “You have one dollar and six friends, and you decide to split the dollar evenly between your six friends. How much of a dollar does each friend get?” *Pause* “Wait a minute; this doesn’t work.”

Student: “Yes, it does.”

Me: “No, think about it. Can a dollar divide into six equal parts?”

Student: *Indignantly* “Yes, it can!”

Me: “Okay, how?”

Student: “You take a pair of scissors and cut the bill into six equal parts!”

Me: “I— Well. That’s…”

The student laughs.

Me: “…genius. Forget I said anything.” 

This kid is going places.

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The Un-Deux-Trois-Quatre-Cinq

, , , , , | Learning | July 16, 2020

I take three years of French in school before switching to Spanish. I am in eleventh grade and am in Spanish 1. We have just started learning past tense and the teacher wants the students to share something about their weekend. When she gets to me, I want to say something about celebrating my grandfather’s birthday.

Me: “Yo comi un gateau!”

Several Students: “You ate a what?!

Teacher: “I didn’t think that was legal in this country…”

For those who don’t know, “gateau” is French for “cake.” It sounds similar to “gato,” which in Spanish means “cat”! So, yeah, I told my class I ate a cat. No, they did not let me forget it, even though I corrected myself right after.

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Don’t Be Chicken About Jamming On

, , , , , , , | Working | July 10, 2020

At our store, we get a lot of Spanish-speaking customers, so my coworker decides he wants to learn to say a few things in Spanish.

Coworker: “So, I already know the word for chicken is ‘pollo,’ but what’s the word for turkey?”

Me: “‘Pavo.'”

Coworker: “And what’s the word for ham?”

Me: “‘Jamon.'”

Coworker: “C’mon?”

Me: “No, ‘jamon.'”

Coworker: “Gum on?”

Me: “Noooo…”

I write it down on a piece of paper for him.

Coworker: “Hah, ‘jam on’! That’s so cool!”

Me: “Jam on?”

Coworker: *Doing air guitar* “Yeah, it’s like, JAM ON, BRO! WHOO!”

He stuck his tongue out like Gene Simmons, raised his right arm, and made a “devil horns” gesture while grabbing his crotch with the other hand.

I just facepalmed.

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Painful Candy Is Better Than No Candy

, , , | Related | July 1, 2020

I’m looking through a catalog that sells nostalgic items. My mom points to a picture of ribbon candy.

Mom: “My grandma always bought that. I hated it. It cut up my mouth.”

Me: “Then why did you eat it?”

Mom: “Because it was there.”

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Who Needs Science When You Can Have Myths?

, , , , , | Related | June 29, 2020

I live in a rural area near a pond, so we see lots of wildlife. My mom and I are taking a walk when we see a baby turtle, no bigger than a quarter, crossing the street. I carefully pick it up and move it to the other side of the road, and then we continue on our walk.

Mom: “That was weird how it knew to go toward the pond. How do turtles know where the water is?”

Me: “It’s instinctual. How do you know how to breathe?”

Mom: “But that’s different. This is directional.”

Me: “I don’t know. I guess if they’ve been doing it for millions of years, it becomes a habit. How do birds know to fly south?”

Mom: “Well, the birds probably follow each other. But that turtle was by itself.”

Me: “But if the birds follow each other, at some point there has to have been a bird that started it all. How does that bird know to go south?”

Mom: “There’s a grandfather bird.”

Me: “A grandfather bird that flies all over the country?”

Mom: “Yes! He’s the keeper of the compass and he flies around the country telling all the birds to go south, and they all follow him there.”

Me: “And then, when he finally arrives in the south, he immediately dies and is reincarnated into another bird.”

Mom: “Yes, he passes on the compass to a new bird.”

Me: “I think we just invented a myth.”

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