Book Smarts, Street Smarts - 11/2/05
Although I've had a reasonable amount of academic success in my life, no one has ever accused me of having too much common sense. Like the time I fell off our garage roof into the driveway… trying to throw a pinecone at my younger brother who was running below. Or the time on our trip to Africa that I videotaped myself grabbing the tail of a wild monkey… and then videotaped myself sprinting madly across a courtyard as the monkey chased me, hissing.

The other day I had a tutoring session where a student unexpectedly pulled out their Pre-Calculus book and asked if I could explain compound-inverse functions to them. Although I was pretty good at that kind of stuff once upon a time, "once upon a time" was in 10th grade, and inverse functions don't exactly have a lot of relevance to the life of someone aspiring to write poop jokes for a living. Nonetheless, I was able to reach deep into my ass and pull out what ended up being a moderately satisfactory explanation. Perhaps it was luck, or deeply-recessed math memory I still haven't managed to kill off with beer. Or maybe it's simply my nature of being a huge, raging nerd.

I walked out of the session feeling rather proud of myself… only to discover my car, parked sideways, directly across somebody's apartment garage entrance. There was no spot there; the curb wasn't painted red or anything… but that was only because there was no curb. It was as if someone had driven into your driveway, turned sideways, and left their car there, blocking your garage. What's worse, my car had been there for the entire ninety-minute tutoring session.

An angry woman was sitting in her car, waiting to get in, and a cop was there, writing me a ticket. Realizing my mistake, I quickly ran up to my car and offered to move it. The cop handed me my ticket and said I was lucky, the tow truck was on its way… and why had I parked there? I responded, quite honestly, that I guessed I hadn't realized it wasn't a spot. The woman, overhearing this, asked condescendingly how I could have not noticed it wasn't a spot; it was right in front of someone's driveway. Was I an idiot or something? I didn't like her brusque tone, but she had a point. So I simply apologized, jumped in my car and got the hell out of there as quickly as possible.

Once I got on the road and realized my tutoring session would way more than cover the $30 parking ticket, I had a good laugh at myself. Still, I acknowledged, it's a good thing I didn't live in caveman days, when common sense ruled and compound-inverse functions had no place in the law of the jungle. I would have been chased by a monkey into a tar pit a long time ago.



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