Learning is Fun

(Originally posted in the Alaska Highway News July 2013)

Measuring tape

I am going to admit something. I don’t really know how to use a measuring tape properly. I mean…of course I know how to physically use the tape; it is the reading of the tape that causes me (and those around me) so much angst.

Case in point. When I was asked to measure my front door for my husband, who was downtown looking for a replacement door, I responded with, “It looks like it is 31 and then 8…..no, maybe 9 little lines”.

Then I think I heard a scream….probably a coyote or something.

He didn’t pick up a door that day.

My feeling is that the only people who need to use sixteenths or thirty-seconds are NASA folks and perhaps people who build prosthetic limbs. Everyone else is just showing off. Little ol’ me has no need to venture that far into the fraction world.

It does not go unnoticed that I have not fully embraced the metric system yet either.

I am not math illiterate, but I am not a savant either. I am somewhere in the middle with momentary flashes of brilliance and small gaps of ineptitude. The measuring tape thingy falls into one of the gaps.

I have other strengths. As a troubleshooter, I can come up with ways (coping mechanisms) to deal with my measuring tape issues.

I could use a string and take said string down to the hardware store!

I could take a marker and put a little dot on the measuring tape and then take the tape with me to the store!

I could take a picture of the marked up measuring tape, clearly showing the measurement, and then show the picture to the helpful folks at the hardware store!

I just heard another scream……..

I am not the only person in the world who struggles with reading a measuring tape. I recall that my Automotive Instructor friend would teach a “reading measuring tape” class at the beginning of the school year. I am certain he did it to save his own sanity.

Considering my shortcomings, one would think that I would be more empathetic towards those who also have difficulty with problems involving math.

I am empathetic, unless it verges on the ridiculous………

Recently, a very good friend of mine relayed a story to me and gave me permission to share it with all of you.

“Jane” was catering a meal for a large group of people, and needed to pre-order some buns from a bakery.

Jane approaches the bakery counter and is assisted by a smiling, young bakery employee. Let’s listen in…..

Jane: “I need to pre-order some buns for an event next week”

Bakery employee: “No problem, how many would you like to order”

Jane (refers to her guest list and does some calculating in her head): “I think I should order about 175 or 180. Let’s do 180, then I will have some extra”.

Bakery employee: “We sell them by the dozen, so I will have to figure that out”.

The young bakery employee proceeds to bring out her calculator and begin calculating while Jane looks on.

12 x 6? Nope…shakes her pretty head

12 x 7? Nope….shakes it again

12 x ………


Jane (baffled by what she is seeing, looking around to see if she is on a Just for Laughs program but seeing no cameras, now begins to speak very slowly to the young employee): “Perhaps if you take 180 and divide it by 12, you will come up with the answer”.

Bakery employee (big smile on her face because she has now learned a “trick”): “It’s 15! You need 15 dozen buns”.

Jane: “I need half to be whole-wheat and half to be white”

Bakery employee writes down 15 whole-wheat and 15 white

Jane (no longer interested in continuing with the teachable moment): “No….I don’t need 360 buns. Just give me 8 dozen whole-wheat and 8 dozen white”.

I think I just heard some screams……..coyotes again?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s