We’re Not Half Surprised

, , , , | Right | June 19, 2018

(We have a table marked 50% off different Items. A woman approaches me.)

Customer: “Excuse me. This is regularly $7.00; how much is it on sale for?”

Me: “Its 50% off; everything on this table is discounted half-off.”

Customer: “So, this is $14.00; how much is this half-off?”

Me: “That would be $7.00.”

Customer: “And what if it’s $10?”

Me: *pause* “Five.”

Customer: “This one is $4, so how much is that?”

Me: *longer pause* “Two.”

Not Even Taking Calculated Risks

, , , , , | Learning | June 17, 2018

(I am in university in a town 30 kilometers away from home. The university is a famous one, and I managed to get into the Business & Economy faculty, which is one of the top faculties there. I am attending the second meeting for statistics class, at the beginning of our first semester.)

Professor: “All right, class, have you all brought a scientific calculator, as I asked last meeting?”

Class: *nods and sounds of agreement*

Professor: “Okay, does anyone here know how to use it?”

Me: *raises hand* “I do.”

Class: *silence*

(Confused, I look around and see that no one else has their hand up.)

Professor: “Just one this semester? Hmm. Well, why don’t you come here and show the others how to use it?”

(I go to the front, still confused.)

Me: “Okay, just to make sure, do you guys only know how to use the basic functions of it, or do none of you know how to use it at all?”

Class: *shakes head*

Me: “How about the calculator in your smartphones? Surely you’ve used that once or twice?”

Class: *more head shaking*

Me: “Then… how have you been doing math all this time?”

Classmate: “I usually just Google the answer.”

Class: *murmurs of agreement*

(I stand there in disbelief, long enough that the professor tells me to sit down and takes over teaching the class how to use calculators. Later, after class has ended:)

Me: “Sir, I still couldn’t believe that someone who got this far has never used a calculator.”

Professor: “It’s very common, from what I’ve seen. The most I’ve seen in a year was three students.”

(I lost the — admittedly small — amount of faith I had in humanity that day.)

Blowing It Up Out Of Proportion

, , , , , | Learning | May 14, 2018

During my sophomore year of college, our campus had a bomb scare, not because of a threat, but because of incorrectly stored chemicals. A professor had brought some picric acid into one of the labs and failed to screw the container’s cap on properly. Picric acid is a component of TNT. It’s relatively safe when kept in an aqueous solution, but when it dries it’s highly explosive and can be set off by being jostled. In response, the university cancelled classes and evacuated half of the campus. The cafeteria was also half-closed, and students were shuffled in to eat in small groups, and told to finish as quickly as possible and get out of the “blast zone.” The fire department was called, and they sent in a bomb squad to retrieve the container and detonate it safely.

Later that day, one of the professors found more dried picric acid in the lab, and asked another professor what to do. They just poured water into the container and dumped it down the sink.

That Went Down The Tubes

, , , , , | Learning | May 3, 2018

(I’m a teacher’s assistant. A physics teacher has a demonstration that he’s used for years: he draws a cello bow across a glass tube, making it hum, and shows how gradually dipping it in water changes the pitch. This year, the demonstration takes a different turn.)

Teacher: “As you can see, I have a glass tube, a cello bow, and a bucket. Now, we’ve been talking about frequencies and vibrations, and I’m sure you remember the slow-motion video of the violin from last week. I’m going to slowly draw this bow across the tube. What do you think’s going to happen?”

Student #1: “It’s probably going to make a noise.”

Student #2: “No, no, it’s not flexible like the strings. Nothing’s going to happen.”

Student #3: “But remember, we watched the video with wine glasses? Glass can-–”

Student #4: *interrupting* “IT’S GOING TO EXPLODE!”

Teacher: “Well, let’s see.”

(He places the tube in its stand and begins to pull the bow. The tube instantly shatters, and the fragments fall into the bucket that he would have otherwise filled with water.)

Teacher: “[Student #4], very good. The minute vibrations induced by the bow are too much for a fragile glass tube like this to handle. Next week, we’ll introduce tubes of varying thickness to see what happens then.”

(After class, I hear the story.)

Me: “So, I hear your tube demonstration went wrong today.”

Teacher: “Ah, no, it went perfectly. The important thing isn’t the expected outcome; it’s that they got a chance to learn something new.”

(He thinks for a second.)

Teacher: “And that they don’t realize I screwed up a demonstration I’ve done for every class for the past fourteen years.”

Oh, The Humanity!

, , , , , | Learning | April 28, 2018

(I’m in AP chemistry.)

Teacher: “[My Name], can you go to [Other Teacher]’s class? I think she left her purse here.”

(I head to her room. When I walk in, she’s gone, but the other class has managed to get a Bunsen burner, plug it in, and turn the gas on. They are standing about ten feet away, while one guy is holding a sparkler you use to ignite the gas. At this point, I drop the purse, turn around, and SPRINT out of the classroom. I almost accidentally knock over the elderly academic chemistry teacher.)


(She tells me to calm down and makes it back to the classroom, but not before we hear a “whoosh” and a few screams. Apparently, the idiot who started it decided to walk near it and light it directly where you’re supposed to, but it had been pumping gas for so long it blew up all over the place, giving the idiot pretty bad burns. I see the teacher a few days later.)

Other Teacher: “Just so you know, the Hindenburg was hydrogen.”

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