Seth M. Knore
March 21, 2004
Sunday, Day 2
Location: C & S Restaurant
Time: 6:43 p.m.
As I finish my dinner, I turn to the right of my barstool, and I notice an elderly gentleman. I call the elderly man Combat Wounded because he wears a purple and yellow-gold hat that says “Combat Wounded” across it. I sit down next to Combat Wounded, introduce myself, and ask if I can interview him. He tells me that I can interview him.
We begin the interview with Combat Wounded describing his opinion of math. Combat Wounded says, “Can’t get through school without it. Most important [subject] in school. I used math in the coal mines. I used it for coal cuts and how to set bolts in the timbers.”
“Combat Wounded, did you enjoy taking math?” I ask. “Yes, it was my favorite subject,” he says. I go on to ask, “What about now; are you still good at solving math problems?” He puckers his lips together into a frown, looks down in disgust, and tells me, “No. Gettin’ too old. I’m forgettin’ my schoolin’.”
Combat Wounded now has my total interest. I wonder how he will answer my next question. I look and him and ask, “What levels of math should be required for youth in school?” “All advanced [math],” he says, “Know all they can on math; most jobs require it.”
I rack off the next question. “Combat Wounded, do you use math still today?” He replies, “Yes, I use it when I do work on the house.” I know that the next question is a big one. I have great interest on Combat Wounded’s response to the question. “Do you think math classes should be offered to retired citizens like yourself?” Combat Wounded tells me, “Yes. Maybe for a job. If you had to go back to work.”
“Combat Wounded,” I say, “I only have two more questions for you.” He smiles at me and nods a nod of approval. I ask him the first of the last two questions. “Do you think that your teachers did a good job explaining math?” Without missing a beat Combat Wounded says, “Yes. Put it out there to ya until you knowed what it was. They [teachers] stood there until you could do it.”
As I ask Combat Wounded my final question, a feeling of sadness comes over me. I am enjoying talking with him so much that I do not want the conversation to end. I know that I must press on and ask my final question. “What was the highest level of math you were taught in school?” “In the ninth grade, they taught us multiplication, division, and such things,” he tells me. “Basic math?” I ask. “Basic math,” he says.
I thank Combat Wounded and shake his hand. As soon as we finish, he receives the order of which he has been waiting. Thank you Combat Wounded. Thank you for your insight and for who you are. I am a better person for having this conversation with you.