Like a lot of people, I like to say that I was never good at math. However, I really was never good at math. As in failing Geometry and never making it past Algebra 2 kind of bad. I suppose I could blame it on the educational system or society, but the fact is math is just too logical for me. I prefer to deal in the abstract when there really is no right answer. Call it a character flaw, it is what it is. So, when I heard I had to take placement tests before picking out a class schedule, I went into a bit of a panic. Not over the writing or reading part, I do that all day, everyday.
But they wanted me to take a math test.
Aside from basic calculations, such as figuring out my living room's square footage or how many miles I needed to walk to work off that Snickers bar, I don't do math. Ever. But the friendly placement test page of Estrella Mountain Community College’s website had some "practice" problems that I could download. So, in the spirit of wanting to do well on the test, I downloaded the problems.
They may as well have asked me how to put a space shuttle into orbit or how much combined Botox was in Kenny Rogers' and Meg Ryan's faces. Impossible to detect and just as distasteful.
I swallowed my pride and called over my then fifteen year-old daughter. She glanced at my computer screen, and started scribbling on a piece of paper.
"This is easy, we did this last year," she says as she hands over the paper.
"Oh, right," I say,"orange."
"Orange? Orange what?"
"The answer. The answer is orange because whatever you did on this piece of paper might as well mean orange."
She looked at me in disgust and walked away, so I enlisted my husband who is less likely to become frustrated with me. After a few of my intellectually and mathematically sound answers of "orange", he, too gave up.
Apparently I am unteachable in this area, so I used Google, an abacus, and a basic function calculator to try and work the rest of the problems. To my dismay most of them were not orange, and I ended up deciding to just take the test and be done with it. A week later there I was, in an uncomfortable and odd shaped, supposed-to-be-ergonomic-but-my-legs-are-to short-for-it-to-be-of-any-benefit-chair staring at a screen full of this:
Ok, I don't think that was a real problem, but you get the idea. An hour and a half later with three sheets of barely recognizable scribbling on a piece of scrap paper, and a killer headache I whisper "orange" and submit the test. The results, again to my dismay, were not "orange", and ended up being quite pitiful. Remedial, excuse me, developmental class pitiful.
I checked out with the proctor, results in hand, and later, sheepishly showed them to an academic advisor who gleefully told me that she had never seen a reading score so high.
"Yeah?, I said, "Check out that math score. Bet you haven't seen one that low."
Mercifully she laughed at my self-deprecation, and I just couldn't feel all that bad about it anymore. That's why I was going to college, right? If I were a math genius I wouldn't need college, and I would be working at NASA by now, or in a plastic surgeon’s office telling Rogers and Ryan that they had exceeded their Botox levels.