My first introduction to Algebra was a nightmare.
It was a class of sixty students that used two teachers. The classroom was extremely large, and we were seated in alphabetical order so the teachers could identify us more easily. There was one large aisle between the first half of the class and the last half of the class, which is where I sat. The teachers never left the front of the room.
I was a good student with a B average, but for some reason, I couldn’t grasp what they were talking about. A+B=C? What does that mean? No matter how many times I raised my hand to ask, no matter how many times I approached a teacher after class, the concept just wasn’t there. I received an F, and that failure devastated me. I was a junior in high school and had never received less than a C in any class.
A few years after graduation, I was working at a dealing school as its secretary. My desk was located just outside the class that taught students how to write and figure Keno tickets. Keno is a gambling game that originated in China. It is basically like a lottery that is played in a casino every five to ten minutes. To play it, a customer selects his numbers on a ticket that is marked with a grid containing 80 numbers. A ticket wins if his numbers match the ones that are called. The amount won is determined by how many of his numbers match the 20 numbers that are called. The more that match, the higher the win.
There are many ways to play Keno than just selecting numbers. A player can combine groups of numbers together on one ticket to add additional ways to win, appropriately called “way” tickets.
Tickets can be created that contain over 200-ways, so in order to figure out how much to pay the player after the game was called, the Keno writer would use mathematical formulas to figure first how much to charge for the ticket and then how much the ticket won after the numbers are called. Modern Keno games use computers to both generate a correct ticket and figure the wins, but this was 38 years ago, so it was a skill that required learning.
When I had nothing to do, I would watch the instructor teach his class. As it became clearer to me about the formulas required for determining the payouts, it suddenly dawned on me. A+B=C was a formula! I was happy and angry at the same time; happy because I finally understood what A+B=C meant, and angry because I was unable to grasp the concept when I was in school.
I remember wishing for another chance to take algebra again so I could prove to myself that I could have done better if my class had been structured differently.
Looking back, I can imagine the Universe spinning its magic, generating billions and trillions of events destined to eventually answer my wish…because it did.
It was 2006, and I had been laid off. Unemployment sent me a letter stating that the current job market for my position was saturated, so they invited me to go to college and learn a new skill. I didn’t have the chance to go to college when I graduated high school, so I was extremely grateful for the opportunity.
One of the required classes for the degree I chose to take was Algebra, and I was very excited. I remembered my failure in school, my “light-bulb” moment when I was watching the Keno class, and also my wish. Here was my chance to find out if I could have gotten an A instead of an F. It was still very hard and it took a lot of time and effort, but I am happy to report that I received a 3.9 in that class.
The moral of this story is that wishes do come true. Sometimes it just takes a little longer, so patience is required and, most importantly, so is an awareness of having made the wish so you can recognize it when it happens.
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My name is Laura Mozer Davis, and I was born over half a century ago. My life’s journey has included raising three children as a single parent while caring for my parents who both became disabled during the last 10 years of their lives. Now that my children are grown and my parents have passed into the next part of their journey, I finally have time for me to grow as a person, not as just a care-giver. What I am learning, however, is that my destiny is to always be a care-giver. When I started writing for The Daily Sisterhood blog, I realized that I was to continue my care-giving through my writing. If my words help even just one person find either solace or joy, I know my life continues to have meaning.