Every kid who plods through math class wonders the same thing eventually: why the hell am I studying this? I will NEVER need this crap outside of this stupid, boring, pointless class!
Yeah, I was that kid. So, for those of you who are going through that same dilemma, let me explain from the vantage point of too many years. You need math. You just don’t know it until it’s too late (which pretty much sums up life, come to think of it). Here’s two examples I just went through.
Driving in the morning rush hour, traffic is backed up. I mean, seriously backed up. Like “it probably looks like a scene from “Twister” ahead” kind of backed up. I’m waiting at the back of a long line of pissed off drivers who inch ahead whenever the light turns. I’m on a curve, so I can count – there are sixteen cars ahead of me. The traffic light cycles every three minutes – two cars make it through each cycle before we stop again. Having done the drive every morning for a few years, I know that once I cross the light I still have another 20 minutes before I get to work. So the question is: am I about to get fired?
16 cars ahead of me divided by two getting through at a time = 8 cycles between me and getting around this. Each cycle is 3 minutes long, which tacks on 24 minutes to my drive. If nothing else goes wrong, I’m going to arrive about half an hour late to work.
Yep, I’m about to get fired.
Here’s another one. My mother-in-law comes to visit. She’s elderly and has trouble getting in and out of the bathtub. We offer to let her use the shower in our room, but she won’t hear of it! She doesn’t want to inconvenience us! Besides, she has the latest nifty “as seen on TV” gadget… a handle with two suckers on each end. She explains that all she has to do is attach it to the wall of the tub, and she can manage on her own, thank you very much!
The question on the table is: am I making an emergency run to the hardware store this afternoon to get stuff to fix the wall?
The force of gravity + her weight + the estimated weight of the water vs how likely it is that there’s dry rot behind that wall.
Answer: don’t get comfortable. The hardware store is in the immediate future.
See? Math is your friend!
Here’s an urban legend thrown in for good measure. A&W wanted to compete with McDonald’s, so they decided to start advertising a 1/3 lb flame-broiled burger to compete with the Quarter Pounder hockey puck. It was a little more expensive than the Quarter Pounder but it was bigger, flame broiled, and not a hockey puck. They thought they had a sure thing, but it tanked. Why? 3 is less than 4. Everyone knows that! So the buying public decided A&W was clearly overcharging for their 1/3 lb of beef vs. the 1/4 lb over at McDonalds.
Don’t be that guy, gentle reader. You don’t need to be a math whiz, but do have a firm grasp of the basics. Because really, you’ll need it. I promise.