Daddy often forgets his hearing aids. He might not remember milk when he goes to the
grocery store. He might even lose his cell phone.
But my father will never ever misplace a decimal point.
Daddy taught college mathematics for 44 years and even though he doesn’t have official students any longer, the world is his classroom. For a good while he volunteered at the farmer’s market and posted a “problem of the week” on a white board. Accurate solvers got a free cookie.
“I’d like 11/37ths of a cup,” Daddy will tell the waiter who’s offered to warm up his coffee. And then tease the poor fellow when he looks gobsmacked.
One waiter did him one better, taking his coffee cup to the kitchen, returning it with markings on the outside—accurate ones—and coffee filled to the precise level requested.
And Daddy keeps an eye out for number problems in the wider world as well. The most common one is a produce department with a handwritten sign offering apples for “.89 cents a pound”.
Daddy has been known to hand an unsuspecting worker a penny and ask for a pound of apples.
Maybe the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree because at the same fruit stand I might take a pen to another handwritten sign—“its such a deal!!”—and add an apostrophe where it belongs.
But the misplaced decimal doesn’t bother me as much as it does him.
Last week I posted a picture of his bike speedometer saying that he’d ridden a cumulative total of 900.00 miles.
And Daddy wrote to correct me. “The speedometer actually reads 9000.0 miles.”
The digits in the picture were small and the decimal point even smaller.
But if I’d ridden my bike 9,000 miles I’d want credit for every single one.