Why would I even need to learn that?

I have a calculator.  I can answer all the math problems I’ll ever need because I own a calculator.  There are many people that worry me when they say they were never any good at math: the nurse administering the medication, the clerk counting my change, the broker managing my investments, the salesman offering me financing at the car dealership, and now, the cop giving parking tickets:

From 360 (Unofficial Blog of the Nazareth College Math Department in Rochester, New York):

The Herald reported last week that a Traffic Warden was incorrectly ticketing cars in a Devon, England parking lot because of how he was using a calculator. In this parking lot, drivers would pay for a certain amount of time and then post a slip in the windshield with the time they’d entered and how long they’d paid for. One driver, for example, entered at 2:49pm and paid for 75 minutes.

Now 75 minutes is 1 hour, 15 minutes so the driver was covered until 4:04pm. But the Traffic Warden figured out the expiration time by entering in 14.49 into his calculator (for 1449 military time, which corresponds to 2:49pm) and adding on 0.75 (for the 75 minutes). He got 15.24, which he interpreted as meaning that the driver was only covered until 3:24pm. Since it was already 3:41pm, he issued the car a ticket. The car owner saw all this and tried to explain the error — that hours have 60 minutes, not 100, so standard decimal addition doesn’t apply — but the Traffic Warden didn’t see any problem and continued to ticket cars.

In good news, after appeal the incorrect tickets were repealed and a letter of apology sent.

4 thoughts on “Why would I even need to learn that?

  1. Wow, this is hard to believe! This is why my kids are going to learn to THINK not just calculate, and aren’t going to use a calculator for their math work until they’re in late high school.

  2. This is also very important when using time cards, too! I had to explain this to a coworker who got confused about it, but finally realized what she was doing wrong.

  3. And SHE is in charge of payroll. Thank goodness we talked about it before she paid the two people that are just recently required to use time cards.

  4. The thing that bothered me most is not that he misunderstood how to do it (although that bothers me a little) but that when called on it, he didn’t care.

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