Morning Math: The Worst Math of the Day

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

There were two lines at the Tim Hortons kiosk - one for those ordering bacon, bagels and specialty drinks - and another for the rest of us.

As the young man behind the counter handed me my tea, I began digging through the giant expanse that is my purse. Gloves. Princess stickers. Altoids. Chocolate bar wrappers…

I was one customer away from my place at the cash register when I remembered the leftover taxi fare change in my pocket.

When I looked over the railing, I could see that it was turning into a busy morning in the hospital so I was glad to have arrived early. I was tired, but anxious to find out if my mom would be able to come home after a frightening 38 hours involving a blood transfusion.

“One fifty-five, please.”

The girl behind the counter watched my money land on the counter. She began to scoop it up and then, she stared at me.

I smiled at her.

She smiled at me.

I looked at my feet.

She looked at my feet.

I waited for her to give me back a coin before closing the cash drawer and moving onto the next person in line. But instead, she stood motionless while the queue behind me began to grow.

Nurses, medical grads and early visitors were standing - holding coffee cups and loonies - waiting.

Waiting for me and my tea.

My brain went into overdrive as the internal dialogue revved up: Kids today. Good grief. Can’t they make change without a calculator? When I worked at Sam the Record Man, if  I couldn't make change in my head, I was sent home. I mean really, it's FIVE CENTS. Can’t she just give me my five cents? Honestly. I wonder if vinyl really will make a comeback. Wait, is that a bobby pin in my purse?

I had decided to cut my losses, take my tea and get out of there when the girl behind the counter cleared her throat.

Her: $1.55

Me: Yeah.

Her (pointing): This is a loonie. A dollar.

Me: Right.

Her: That's a quarter. Twenty-five cents.

Me: Uh huh.

Her: And right here, is another quarter. 

She looked me straight in the eye - for effect - and that's when I realized that there was an idiot on the premises. And I was it. 

My face grew hotter than the paper cup burning my hand as I reached into my pants for a nickel. Then, I mumbled something about having to meet with a doctor, needing to make a phone call and working on my morning math.

Later, when I shared my story with my mom, she nearly fell out of her hospital bed. The timing was good considering she was about to undergo a procedure which we were hoping would result in her release. As it happened, laughter truly was the best medicine. (And a highly skilled physician wearing an ugly Christmas sweater and casual jeans didn't hurt either.)

No, really.


 If you're reading this, you're alive and if you're alive, you've got blood pumping through your veins.

That's science.

My mom spent Christmas week 2015 in hospital after a routine medical test resulted in catastrophic blood loss.

Thanks to blood donors, she received a transfusion and her life was saved.

If you are healthy and able, please consider taking the time to roll up your sleeves and share the love.

Become a blood donor.

If you do, you will save a life. Also, there are cookies involved.

That's what's called a win-win.

Go to to find out more.

Thank you.