Saturday, October 6, 2012

An Apologetic Thank You

"... 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." 
Stanley Hauerwas

     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.


  1. This reminds me of a cartoon I once saw, where a teacher stood in front of the class writing on the blackboard, 2 + 2 =
    The caption said, “Ok class, calculators ready?

    There was a song years ago,

    Don't know much about geography
    Don't know much trigonometry
    Don't know much about algebra
    Don't know what a slide rule is for

    But I know that one and one is two
    And if this one could be with you
    What a wonderful world this would be …

    I could easily spiritualize this song.

    1. I think the spiritual overtone of that song is self-evident. Thank you for reminding me of it. Blessings!