When Dyscalculia Attacks!

, , , , , , , | Learning | January 14, 2019

I had a babysitter once who I found out was in the ‘slow’ class and I couldn’t understand why, since she seemed like a normally intelligent kid.

She said it was her math; she just didn’t understand it and could never get it right. I told her to come over after school and I’d tutor her.

I decided to start at the beginning so I could judge where she was, and got out the penny jar to use in demonstrating basic adding and subtracting.

I soon came to realise that she had absolutely no concept of written numbers. She’d see a number and it was just a meaningless squiggle to her. She was trying to memorize them and remember what it meant when you had one squiggle and did something with it with another squiggle. I have never come across this before and have no idea what you’d call it. I’m sure it has a name.

So, we started with the pennies, me showing her that this squiggle meant these many pennies and onward and upward, and it didn’t really take long, once we figured out the problem, to get her all caught up. She graduated high school in a ‘regular’ class with her age mates.

But I CANNOT understand how this child got to grade ten without any of her ‘educators’ figuring this out!

If You Spend $200 On A Calculator, You’re Not Good With Numbers

, , , , , | Right | January 9, 2019

(I work at a small chain grocery store at the customer service desk. This woman calls in claiming to have been triple-charged, and I tell her to come in the next day with her receipt.)

Customer: “Hi. I spoke to [My Name] on the phone yesterday, and she told me to come in today with my receipt for a refund.”

Me: “Hi! Yes, I was the person you spoke to yesterday. Let’s take a look at your receipt.”

(I look at her receipt, and she has a total written down next to her balance that is $20 less.)

Me: “Ma’am, you got your three free items. You purchased three and got three free. Here, I’ll circle it for you.”

(I circle the free items in red and the paid items in green.)

Customer: “No! You’re wrong! My total should be $82.91 and not $102.91! I was overcharged!”

(I take out my calculator and calculate her total which comes up to her subtotal.)

Me: “Ma’am, your total is correct. You weren’t overcharged. I promise.”

Customer: “No. You’re wrong. I’m going to go home and calculate my total on my husband’s $200 calculator, and if it’s different than what I paid, I’m coming back for a refund.”

(She never came back.)

I Only Believe 10% Of Whatever I Hear

, , , , , | Right | January 8, 2019

(This customer has bought £55 worth of items. She has a voucher for 10% off which is applied to the entire purchase. She pays and leaves, but comes back not ten minutes later.)

Customer: “Excuse me. You didn’t take 10% off.”

Me: *checks receipt and points* “No, here it is. You only paid £49.50.”

Customer: “How is that 10%?!”

Me: “It… just is.”

Customer: “No, can I get someone else to fix this? Preferably a man who can actually do maths?”

Me: “I don’t know if there are any men in store at the moment, but regardless, I didn’t actually take 10% off myself. The register did when I scanned your voucher.”

(The woman refuses to listen and goes to reception, where the receptionist and manager — both women — try to convince her that the discount is correct. She again refuses to listen. The manager tells her the next man will be coming in around an hour, and the woman literally waits for him at reception.)

Male Colleague: “I have been told you have an issue with your purchase?”

Customer: “Yes, my voucher wasn’t counted — 10% off.”

Male Colleague: *looks at voucher* “No, it has. The original price was £55, and you paid £49.50. That’s 10% off.”

Customer: “That’s good to know. But really, I can’t stand here all day waiting for you! You need a man in store at all times. I’m much too busy! None of your women had the maths to help!” *storms out*

Male Colleague: “Did she actually wait an hour just for me to tell her what her receipt said?”

Me: “Yup!”

Male Colleague: “And you didn’t bother to tell her you had a maths A-level?”

Me: “I figured after she asked for a ‘man’ that she wouldn’t have listened to me, regardless. I probably could’ve invented calculus and she would still be in doubt as to whether 10% of 55 is 5.5.”

Male Colleague: *laughing* “Well, I didn’t even pass maths!”

Most G(r)eeks Know This

, , , , , | Learning | January 4, 2019

(My math teacher isn’t great. My two friends and I often sit off to the side of the class and do other homework while keeping an eye on her, because we are well ahead of this class and she is painfully slow in teaching the topics. On the bright side, she allows this because we do well in class. On the not-so-bright side, we’ve also had several disagreements with her about the accuracy of what she is teaching, most notably, her insistence that the constant pi is equal to 22/7 — not close to it, but equal to that exact value. In actuality, pi is not the same as any number, and famously requires lots of work to calculate ever more digits to be ever more precise. Most geeks know this, and all math teachers should. During two earlier incidents we’d given up trying to convince her she was wrong. On this particular day, she starts teaching the class about rational and irrational numbers. Rational numbers can be expressed by a ratio of integers — i.e. 22/7 — while irrational numbers cannot — i.e. pi. She starts putting down examples in two columns. As shown in the book, she puts pi in the irrational numbers category.)

Friend: “So… if pi is 22/7, that is a ratio of two integers. Why isn’t it listed as a rational number?”

(She looks flustered and thinks for a good thirty seconds, then erases pi and moves it to the rational numbers column.)

My Friends & Me: “Noooooo!”

(This suddenly became our Alamo, our line in the sand. We weren’t giving up this time. It took us another fifteen minutes of arguing to finally convince her that while pi was approximated as 22/7, this wasn’t its actual value. We had to dig through some extra textbooks she had in her cabinets to find an earlier textbook that stated this explicitly and simply in a single sentence in order to convince her, but she finally admitted she was wrong. The reason she had so many spare textbooks sitting in her cabinets? She was the head of the math department and they were samples from publishers. Also, this was the honors class.)

Hasn’t Done Math Since The Fifties, Or Changed His Attitude, Either

, , , , | Right | January 2, 2019

(I am doing an exchange for a gentleman, and once the receipt prints I hand it over to him. I am male.)

Customer: “The f*** is this? You’re ripping me off! I should have gotten more back! I want your manager!”

(I call over my manager, who is a short, young woman, and explain the situation. She is a very blunt person and very good at math, so I know she can figure out what happened)

Manager: “May I see the receipt, please?”

Customer: “Who are you? I wanted a manager!”

Manager: “And you got one; let’s see that receipt and figure this out.”

(I grab it off the counter and hand it to her. After just a few seconds of looking at it, she figures it out and explains how everything worked out, that the amount he got back is correct. She even shows him with the calculator the simple math she used to solve the confusion.)

Customer: “How the f*** do you expect me to trust a woman with math stuff? This is a joke that you are management here!”

Manager: “If I can’t do math because I am a woman, then what is your excuse, exactly? Tell you what; you grab a second-grade math book and double check my formulas, and give me a call if you need a tutor to get you through it. Until then, you have a wonderful day.”

(The customer leaves with a very red face.)

Me: “How do you put up with stuff like that?”

Manager: “The secret to success is to not give a f*** what people say you can and can’t do, and to relish the looks on their faces when you prove them wrong.”

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