Trying to live a life without math

My bank gave me math anxiety.

To be correct my bank’s ATM gave me math anxiety but since the ATM belongs to my bank I think it’s fair to say my bank gave me math anxiety.

Normally I don’t get math anxiety. The reason I normally don’t get bank anxiety is because I’ve spent most of my life avoiding math.

I don’t like math. Never had. Early on, when I first encountered math in elementary school, I would, on occasion, make an attempt to like it. But after a few bouts with long division or uneven fractions I would give up.

I learned early on that math was not for me.

Sure, I had friends who liked math. I mean I think I did but off the top of my head I can’t recall any.

I didn’t exactly run with a bright crowd.

So what do you do when you discover you don’t like something? You avoid that something as much as possible.

I don’t like Brussels sprouts. Do I order Brussels sprouts when I’m at a restaurant? Of course not. Why would I order something I don’t like?

So why would I surround myself with math when I don’t have to?

During my freshman year of college at Emporia State University I was told I needed to take at least one math class. I asked the college person for the easiest math class they had and enrolled in that one.

“How easy was that math class?” you ask.

You know how must basic college courses are followed by the numbers like “101” or “102”? As in “English 101” or “History 102”.

The math course I took my freshman year was “Math -10.”

It was an easy course is what I’m saying.

Even though the math course I took was incredibly easy I still got a “D” in the class.

Of course that may have been in part because I seldom went to class and may have sort of forgotten to take the final.

But still? A “D”? In Math -10?

Ever since I’ve done my best to avoid math and thus reduce the risk of math anxiety.

But my bank’s ATM changed all of that.

What happened is my bank decided to put in a new ATM. I hate when banks put in new ATMs. It’s like when the people who control my cellphone decide to “update” it without asking.

I go to bed one night and all is right with the world and the next morning my phone is all screwed up and nothing makes sense anymore.

I used to put my bank card into the ATM, type in my PIN and it would give me money. But the other day when I put my card in the new ATM at first nothing happened.

Then my ATM told me to take my card out, put it back in and quickly take it back out.

Not wanting to be rude and tell my ATM that it was acting crazy I instead did what it asked.

After I put my card in and then quickly pulled it out my ATM told me to put my card back in and leave it in. And it didn’t tell me to that politely. Nope, my ATM told me to put my card back in and leave it in using all capital letters.

That’s right. My ATM shouted at me. So, as far as I was concerned, all bets were off and I shouted back at the ATM.


In retrospect, I suppose I should have, before shouting at the ATM, made sure there wasn’t anyone close enough to hear me.

Ever notice when someone starts off a sentence with the words, “In retrospect” the rest of the sentence doesn’t go well for that someone?

After waving at the person behind me in an attempt to convince them I wasn’t crazy I continued with my ATM business.

I wanted to withdraw exactly $30 from my ATM. The reason I wanted to withdraw exactly $30 is because that is the exact amount I needed to give to Andrew who was going to check on our dog for a bit while my wife and I were going to be out of town.

But when I asked my ATM for exactly $30 the ATM informed me I could only ask for “$20, $40, $60, $80 our $100”.

I don’t like to carry a lot of cash anymore which was why I was at the ATM trying to get exactly $30.

I wanted to make sure I got a $20 bill and a $10 bill. That’s it. That’s all I wanted. But my ATM had other plans.

Clearly the $20 option wasn’t the correct choice nor, did I think, was the $40 option because I was afraid my ATM would only give me two $20 bills. So, on a hunch, I choice the $60 option.

Then my ATM threw a curve: It asked me to pick the dollar denominations to equal $60.

And that’s when the math anxiety kicked in.

Remember that person behind me who heard me yell at the ATM? Well, now I felt even more pressure to quickly make a dollar denomination choice that would equal $60 yet still give me a $10 bill and a $20 bill.

Why should the person behind me be punished for my dislike of math?

I try to be a considerate guy. I mean, I got the vaccine and still wear a mask around other people.

I’m not the sort of person to make another person wait just because I spent my life avoiding math.

I took a deep breath and as if possessed by a part of my brain I didn’t realize existed I quickly asked the ATM for two $10 bills and two $20 bills.

And miraculously that’s exactly what my ATM gave me.

Oh, and two Brussels sprouts.


My ATM is sort of a smart ass.