Sunday, 2 December 2012

Smile and Tap The Slide Rule



Just a quick one tonight, because Hurricane and Tornado just plain wore me down. They are getting bigger, and when they accidentally “sac” me it really hurts. I guess the worst thing is that they are still too small to get even with. Their time will come…

Louise and I went to have a coffee at the Tim Horton’s that we normally go to today. I noticed when we walked in that the windows hadn’t been painted with a festive Christmas scene like they always are at this time of year. I wondered if it had anything to do with the economy. There are a lot of companies that are scaling back Holiday spending in favour of keeping people working. It is the right thing to do, but I know that everyone enjoys this time of year no matter how much they grouch about it. Just as we were leaving the window painter came in and started to get busy. He said he had three more Tim’s to paint today.
 Seasonal window art work for Tim Horton's.
There was a guy that came in and sat behind me. Louise said that he had a slide rule. A slide rule???? Who uses a slide rule in this day and age? I had to look, so I turned in my chair and looked at a guy in his mid to late 50’s and he looked me right in the eye. Don’t you just hate it when someone that you are looking at looks right back at you? I am going to chalk it up to bad timing and not even think that there is something odd about myself that someone has to focus on in a Tin Horton’s. What could I do? I said to him “My wife says that you have a slide rule with you. I haven’t seen a slide rule in years and I guess that most young people don’t even know what one looks like, let alone how to use it.”
 
He held up a triangular ruler and said “No, this is just a regular ruler, but I have a slide rule in the truck.”  

“Cool”…Fuck…really!
 
I turned back to Louise and we talked about slide rules and someone else joined the guy at the table behind me. We moved on to discussing how bad drivers are and why people do the stupid things that people do. I hadn’t noticed the slide rule guy leave his table, but he came back with the slide rule. He handed it to Louise and she slid the slide back and forth a few times, making the comment that she couldn’t remember how to use one anyways. He said that it was easy and Louise went over to the table and they multiplied 3 X 2 and came up with six.

The guy tried to divide 6 by 3 and couldn’t get it to work. I remember that feeling too well. I understood the principle, but I could never, and I mean never get it to work. My teacher was a brilliant mathematician and he couldn’t get me to understand, so I knew this guy in the Tim Horton’s didn’t have a chance. Nothing tells you just how stupid you are than the painful memories of failure. I can still see this German teacher pointing at the blackboard and then looking at me like his pointing made any sense what so ever. I’d shake my head and he would again point at the blackboard, a little slower this time, look me in the eye and smile. I’d shake my head no and he would point at the blackboard one more time, look back at me with a befuddled, hopeful look. I knew that this might just go on forever with me shaking my head and him pointing at the blackboard, unless I took some decisive action. I said to him “Oh…I get it now.”

He smiled and nodded and went on writing some indecipherable symbols on the blackboard that the Mayans would be proud of. Not all math teachers are dicks, but this guy was, and I have the sneaking suspicion that the guy at the table behind me at Tim Horton’s just might have been a math teacher.

He did smile and tap the slide rule.

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