"... our neediness is also the source of our greatest strength,
for our need requires the cooperation and love
of others from which derives our ability not only
to live but to flourish."
Standing there, at the Walmart checkout, I realized I owe an apology and a 'Thank You' to my third-grade teacher. The clerk helping me was a young man. All went well until he scanned the paint can. $17.94 appeared on the screen. "Will that be all?" he asked.
"The paint is 50% off," I said.
I pointed to the large, black lettering on the lid. He looked around for a manager.
"Let me see if I can do this." After several buttons were pushed, he said, "There, I think I can override now." He looked around again. "If only I had a calculator."
"I could do it on paper, if that's O.K.," I offered. The young man watched me divide 17.94 by 2 as though I was solving the 47th Problem of Euclid. I held the answer up- $8.97, but when he typed the numbers in, he added them instead of subtracting them. "Uh, that's higher than it was," I said.
"Oh, sorry. Let me get a manager."
A woman soon arrived and said, "Let's start over." When she scanned the paint the original $17.94 appeared.
"It's 50% off."
"And that is...?"
I held the paper up. "$8.97." I noticed the young man was smiling.
My third-grade teacher introduced me to division. I hated it. I didn't believe I would ever have a need for the ability to solve a division problem. But my teacher persisted, and as I walked toward the Walmart exit I looked at the paint can and smiled.