Thursday, May 26, 2016

Money Folder

I'm not the greatest mathematician. If you've ever watched me try to calculate a tip or figure out how much longer a movie lasts, you'll soon realize that I'm basically functionally retarded when it comes to numbers.

I've had to do some calculatin' at work recently. In my last bit of mathmagic, I submitted an invoice requesting an order of 200,000 cards at $27.88 per thousand for a total of $5,576. Pay attention, this will be on the test.

As with many things work-related, this required dozens of signatures and different offices and forms and letters and holy crap I just fell asleep reliving all those forms I had to fill out.

About a week after I turned all this in I get a call from someone in City Hall. The numbers weren't right, which wasn't really surprising. She talked me through it and pointed out that the order I submitted actually came to $55,760, a sum that would never, ever, ever get approved.

I hung up and looked at my forms (always keep a copy!). I dunno, it looks like my numbers were right. 200,00 cards, $27.88 per thousand...that should come up to $5,576, right? Then again, just because I came up with the same answer twice doesn't really mean anything, so I asked some smart people and they came up with the same answer. So when City Hall called back this morning, I laid out my case.

It did not go well. Like a beloved comedy routine, we kept getting stuck in a loop, which I'll recreate for your pleasure:

City Hall: "So if you order 200,000, that would be $55,760."
Me:    "Right. But they're $27.88 per thousand. So you would multiply that by 200, right?"
CH:    "OK. $27.88 times 200,000"
Me:     "No. $27.88 will buy me 1000. To get 200,000, I would have to buy that 200 times."
CH:     "So multiply $27.88 by 200,000."
Me:     "No. Say I go into a store. I've got enough money to buy a thousand of these. But I want 200,00. So I'd multiply that by 200, right?"

After about 10 minutes of this, she hung up and said she'd call me back. While I was waiting for her call, I began to question my math. She was probably right. I mean, she works with numbers every day, and if I could do math, I'd probably have a different job. Why am I pestering that poor woman? Then she called back and said, "OK, so my math skills have disappeared." Then we worked through the requisition process like a team, which was nice, since she said I was driving her to drink on our first call.

I don't mean to make fun of City Hall lady, since anyone can have a brain slip-up or get so sure of something that we fail to see the facts. Hell, I do both constantly. But if you're ever in a situation where my math skills are what saves the day, that is a situation you do not want to be in.

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