I once got a greeting card that totally sums up how I see word problems, “If you have four pencils and I have seven apples, how many pancakes will fit on the roof? Purple, because aliens don’t wear hats.” And that’s where this week’s story begins.
You see, while last month… three was a magic number, this month - it’s been the trifecta. My mom went into congestive heart failure, getting home to see her has been one SNAFU after another, and – before I left for Appalachia, I hit my step-kids’ Calculus teacher’s car… which was parked at the time… with my brand new Jeep… which was moving. When we exchanged information, I said, “What are the odds that I’d hit a Math teacher’s Volvo?” To which she replied, “Do you really want the answer to that question.” No, no I don’t… but A+ for humor.
It was completely my fault, and she was great about it. Honestly, she was lovely in a “shit happens” kind-of-way, but the woman at Geico was awesome, seriously awesome. When I told her what happened, she said, “In other words, if car A is doing three miles an hour in a parking lot and it hits car B that’s doing zero, how much damage was done and what is it going to cost you?” Well played Geico lady. Well played.
At any rate, as the Customer Service Rep and I went through the questions, she was upbeat and kept me focused on the positive by reminding me that things could have been much, much worse - a process which I found myself repeating on the back roads that you’re forced to take if you want to get to my home town. Well, that and the fact that I wished I’d paid more attention in Math class because I kept asking myself, “If car A is a hybrid, and it’s 10:00 at night, and you’re driving through what appears to be a Deliverance theme park, where everything is closed, and your rental car’s check engine light is on, and the mountains make it difficult to get cell phone reception, and the only thing you’ve seen are pickup trucks with gun racks… how many hours will you be missing before someone actually notices?”
The answer is ZERO because you call your older brother and you make him navigate you home. Actually, it’s zero MINUS the two hours that I spent being lost because my cell phone kept cutting in and out. Yup, I got lost in my home town for two hours… and here is how the conversation about that went…
- mkromd – I’m SO lost… and OMG, we have an "Exotic Dancers" club now? What exactly does THAT look like in Appalachia?
- mkromd’s brother – We don’t have a strip club. Where in the HELL are you… and wait, WHY WOULD I KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE?
- mkromd – Ugh. You’re dead to me. There’s NOTHING else open. Should I stop and get help?
- mkromd’s brother – Um, no. My guess is that the dancer is exotic because she speaks in tongues and handles snakes or she's hairy enough to double as the bouncer and would have to get off stage to give you directions. Keep driving and tell me the first river you cross…
No really, where I come from, you still follow the streams to find your way home and there’s comfort in that. It may be why I think that progress progresses too fast. Anyway, when I got to the hospital this morning and told my mom, she said, “I already heard.” That’s when we tweaked our word problem and she made me show the work to get full credit. Here it goes:
If it takes Driver A two hours to get home MINUS fifteen minutes of ADHD musing MULTIPLIED by the 95% chance that this will happen again, how long will it take for her sister and brothers to tell their mother what happened? Nine hours. That’s right, I arrived at midnight and by 9:00 AM she’d heard the story three times. You know… although I wept my way through every Algebra, Geometry and Calculus class that I ever took, I am 100% certain that our gene pool needs more chlorine.
Talk to you later.