Being Fairly Mathematical

, , , , , | Right | December 18, 2017

(I’m a manager at a store and I answer the phone one day.)

Me: “Thanks for calling [Store]! [My Name] speaking. How can I help you?”

Customer: “Hi, I was in earlier today and have a question about my receipt. You guys are having a sale on your shorts now, right?”

Me: “Yes, we are. They are buy one, get one half-off.”

Customer: “Okay, I bought a pair of shorts for [amount] and another pair for [cheaper amount].”

Me: “All right, you should have gotten the [cheaper amount] one for half-off.”

Customer: “Right, I should have gotten [half the cheaper amount] off. But my receipt only says I got [different amount] off.”

Me: “Oh, well, we ring in our buy-one-get-one-half-off a little different. Instead of ringing it through as half off one pair, we take the amount you would get off, divide it in half, and take that off each item.”

Customer: “Well, that isn’t fair. The deal said, ‘buy one, get one half-off!’”

Me: “You are paying the same price as if you had half off one; we just ring it in differently.”

Customer: “That’s not fair.”

Me: “If you bought a pair of shorts for $30 and a pair for $20, you would get $10 off the one pair. We take the $10 and instead take $5 off each item. It is the same price you would pay if we just took half off one.”

Customer: “That isn’t fair. It said half off one, not 25% off!”

Me: “And you are getting half off one. If you add the two amounts you got off, it would be the same price as if you got half off. We just have to ring it through this way because too many people were returning the full price pair and keeping the half-off one. So now we have to take the half off amount off each.”

Customer: “It isn’t fair.”

Me: *sighs* “I’m sorry, but it will be the same price. Our associates rang it through correctly. If you have a problem with how it is done, contact customer service. They can help you more.”

Customer: “I don’t have a complaint.”

Me: *confused*

Customer: “It just isn’t fair.”

(After going in a circle for ten more minutes, I told her I would not be able to help her further and ended the call.)

Need A Pi In The Face

, , , , , , | Learning | December 18, 2017

(I am in a calculus class in college, a class I already took in high school. It has been a long week and a long day, so my head is definitely not all there. Our teacher assigns us to work with partners on a problem. We quickly realize that neither of us can remember the equation for the area of a circle.)

Teacher: “Are you two stuck?”

Partner: “Yeah. We forgot the equation for the area of a circle.”

Teacher. “Oh, that’s unfortunate.” *he’s not known for being the most sympathetic* “Would you like me to ask the class?”

Me: “No.”

Teacher: “Would that embarrass you?”

Me: “Yes.”

(I have social anxiety, so, yes, it would very much embarrass me. Suddenly, a quiet voice from behind me speaks up. It is a boy who I have several classes with and chat with on occasion.)

Classmate: *to the teacher* “Say I’m the one who’s asking.”

(The teacher moved to stand by him and asked the class. The class provided the answer. I turned to look at the boy, who smiled and gave me a thumbs-up. Thank you for easing my anxiety and asking the question!)

Heavy Metal Is Just Cool

, , , , , , | Friendly | December 13, 2017

(My husband’s best friend is an interesting character. We don’t understand how his brain works; his logic seems consistently flawed, and he’s highly hypocritical. This interaction sticks out to me as one of the most bizarre to date. Note: this takes place in the middle of summer in Arizona, and our AC has broken. My husband mentions getting a fan while waiting for it to be repaired.)

Friend: “Make sure it’s a metal fan.”

Husband: “What? Why would that make a difference?”

Friend: “Metal fans cool air as it goes through them.”

Husband: *pause* “That’s not how that works.”

(Later on, the friend comes to visit us and brings his own metal fan to prove the point. We have a plastic one by now, and the AC has been fixed. After setting up the fans and testing them by putting his hands in front of him, an argument ensues.)

Friend: “See? My metal fan is cooler!”

Me: “Or it could be that you set the metal fan up in the coolest room in the house.”

Husband: “Seriously, the fan’s material makes no difference.” *goes on to explain about BTUs, circulation, and how it’s literally impossible to make something colder just by moving the air really fast*

Friend: *refusing to listen* “Listen. My experience says metal fans are cooler.”

Husband & Me: *sigh*

(Gotta love when people push forward personal anecdotes as if they’re tested and proven science.)

Either Way The Cat Is Pissed

, , , , , | Friendly | December 4, 2017

(I spend a weekend with a friend who is in grad school studying physics. He explains to me the idea of Schrodinger’s Cat and how it relates to what’s called the Double-Slit Experiment. While I find later that what he told me about the cat is actually a common misunderstanding of the illustration — in that he says the cat is literally dead or alive until it’s observed as either; not actually the case — my mind is nonetheless blown by what he explains to me. I make it home, and a couple weeks later I go on a camping trip with a bunch of guys. We sit around the fire that night, bringing up interesting things to discuss, and I remember Schrodinger’s Cat. Humorous ignorance ensues.)

Me: “So, if you were to put a cat in a box, and… Oh, gosh, how did it go? You put poison in the box and the cat maybe eats it or doesn’t? Anyway, there’s somehow a 50% chance the cat dies, but it’s in the box, and you can’t see if it happened or not. The cat is both alive and dead at the same time until you check the box.”

Friend #1: “What? That’s bull-s***.”

Me: “No, it’s physically proven! It has to do with this experiment with… electrons or something going through slits, and how they appear on a screen.”

Friend #1: “You can’t see electrons!”

Me: “No, I know, but it’s projecting onto the screen somehow.”

Friend #2: “So, if you kill a cat and put it in a box, then—”

Me: “—no, no, no. The cat’s alive when you put it in the box with the poison—”

Friend #3: “How are you supposed to keep the cat from eating the poison?”

Me: “You aren’t. There’s a 50% chance that it will.”

Friend #3: “I don’t see how that’s possible. You can’t control a cat like that.”

Me: “It’s something I’m sure I’m forgetting. I know the 50% chance of killing the cat is part of it. I think you have to assume that.”

Friend #4: “Okay, I’ve not been paying attention, but now I’m intrigued. Why does [My Name] want to poison cats?”

Me: “I’m not advocating poisoning cats!”

Friend #1: “No, it’s not about poisoning cats. I guess you shoot electrons through a poison cat and—”

Friend #2: “—see, I thought he said if you can make it a 50% chance to poison a cat but don’t watch, you get two cats, but one is dead.”

Me: “Are you guys actually being serious right now?”

(They were.)

Friend #1: “Don’t get mad at us. You’re the one talking about poisoning cats with electrons.”

(I gave up and then someone brought up football or action movies or cage fighting and we talked about that for hours, instead.)

Putting The A** In Asthma

, , , , , , | Learning | November 30, 2017

(We are in science class, and my friend comes up to me with what looks like a tongue depressor, probably just a lollipop stick.)

Friend: “Cough on this.”

Me: “Why?”

Friend: “Just do it!

(I cough on it. He instantly starts rubbing it around in his mouth.)

Me: “What the hell are you doing?”

Friend: “Shut up. I’m trying to get asthma!”

Me: “It’s not contagious.”

Friend: “Shut up. How the hell would you know?”

Me: “I have asthma, maybe?”

(He walks away still sucking the stick. Half an hour later.)

Friend: “Sir, I feel faint. I can’t see straight. I think I have asthma.”

Teacher: “If you had asthma you would find it difficult to breathe.”

Friend: “That, too!” *falls on floor*

(I sincerely hope he was joking.)

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