Thursday 29 Sep 2016

Math Phobia
Jennifer Flaten

I have a phobia. I do not share the clown phobia or the zombie phobia, with many other women and men. I have many phobias, but the one I am talking about is Math phobia. Yes, I am sure it is a real phobia.

My phobia started in third grade. Coincidentally, that is the year we memorized the multiplication tables. That year, I came down with strep throat a lot. I don’t have an exact number of times, let‘s just say enough times to merit a special meeting with the principle.

It was also enough times to put me very far behind in math. I eventually memorized those damnable multiplication tables and, the damage done, I moved on. After that, I struggled with long division-remainders make me cry-and fractions.

Let’s not even talk about geometry. If the only way I could get off a deserted island were to find the radius of a circle I would die on that island. 

It’s no surprise that I didn’t pass Algebra 1. I ended half a math credit short in high school. I needed that credit to graduate, yet my options were a tad on the limited side, retake algebra or take a class known as consumer math.

Since I would rather juggle flaming chainsaws than take algebra, again I chose consumer math. In that class we learned budgeting, how to make change, and my favorite how to leave a tip. Everyone loved the tip unit, as it included a fieldtrip to Denny’s for breakfast so we could practice our newfound skills.

I did eventually get better at math. While I can now do simple math-sometimes, even without a calculator-I still really hate doing math in front of people. You know how some people have anxiety dream about public speaking? I have that same dream except mine involves doing math in front of a group.

I have purposely avoided jobs that require doing math of any sort in front of people. Although, I did a job that involved public math; the local convention centre hired me to work in their business center. I was in charge of the front counter, which meant making copies and sending faxes for the convention attendees. Where’s the math in that you ask? Well, you have to bill the people for their copies etc. This involves math, more than you would think, while the customer waits impatiently at the counter.

The first time I had to tally a customer’s bill and make change I nearly passed out from the stress. I eventually got better, although I am criminally slow and actually have to do the math on paper-which is rather embarrassing as one of my co-workers could add a column of 15 numbers in his head.

To say that I am not much of a help during math homework time is a gross understatement. During seventh grade geometry or algebra homework, I am there to lend moral support. I have no tips, tricks or help that I can offer. Unless, it is Googling the formula if that is needed than I am your go-to woman.

Luckily, none of my math deficient genes passed on to my kids. They are actually good at math. One kid can actually do more complex math problems in her head. I stand in awe and obviously will have her fill out my taxes next year.

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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