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When will I ever use math? --Based on a true story

posted Mar 30, 2016, 8:42 PM by Jeffrey Wolf

A Short Story By: Megan Cichon, Entertainment Editor

Posted January 28th, 2016

Not too long ago I was with my grandparents and their friends. They asked my sister and I how school was going, and I started complaining about my math classes.

"When will I ever use the Pythagorean Theorem?" I complained, "When am I ever going to need to find the slope of a line? I haven't used any of the things I've learned in math past elementary school in the real world."

My grandpa's friend, who we'll call Frank, cleared his throat, and with all the dignity in the world, set his plastic Coke bottle on the table.

"I used to be a math teacher," Frank began, "I taught in high school and college."

I prepared myself for a long and boring speech about jobs relating to sales, engineering, and teaching math.

"And math is more useful than you think," Frank continued, "You know that book with the shiny vampire, werewolf, and really pale teenage girl?"

I nodded.

"How are you going to ever figure out how big that crazy love triangle is without an equation to do so?"

Frank's wife smiled. My grandpa decided it was the opportune moment to clean his glasses. Frank took another gulp of his Coke, and continued with his speech.

"Now look out this window," he ordered, twisting the cap back on.

I looked, and saw a driveway with a tiny bit of snow on it, covering up patches of ice.

"That driveway has a slope of fifteen degrees, and I fall on my butt and slide down the ice under that snow every day because the angle that the sun hits the ice at--which by the way, is sixty degrees-- causes the rays of the sun to reflect back up at me at an eighty degree angle and blind me."

By now I was smiling at the best example of real world math I'd ever heard.

"And by the way," Frank concluded, "When you're blind, you have zero percent visibility."