When I taught math, one thing I drilled into my students was to consider if their answer was reasonable. Sometimes students would insist that they had checked and rechecked their answers and their computations were correct. They we’re frustrated when I’d tell them to read the problem again.
“Does it seem reasonable to you that these people would buy 25,000 square yards of carpet for a house that is only 1600 square feet?” I would ask. They’d think about it for a second, realize they had miscalculated somewhere, and take their paper back to figure out where they went wrong.
The reason I bring this up is because I received a call from my girlfriend Joanie a few days ago that left me scratching my head. Her daughter is getting married in a couple of weeks, and we had sent them a bunch of things off their bridal registry.
“Susie, the kids are here, and they wanted me to tell you that you are very generous,” she said. I thought that they had gotten all the items we had sent them, but apparently everything hadn’t been shipped at once, and they had only gotten one item.
“You must think they are very messy people,” she said.
“What are you talking about?” I was puzzled.
“I’m talking about the 64 cloth napkins you sent them!” she said, laughing.
On their bridal registry they had asked for one set of eight napkins at $2.49 each. As nice cloth napkins usually cost no less than five or six dollars apiece, the price of $2.49 apiece was a bargain. However, the person who filled our order took it to mean that one entire set of eight napkins cost the $2.49, and since we had asked for eight at that price, he or she assumed we wanted eight sets of eight. I was charged $19.99 for all 64 napkins. Now either an entire set of eight napkins cost only $2.49, in which case you should consider ordering the Harvest napkins from Bed, Bath, and Beyond, or someone wasn’t thinking of the reasonableness of that order. If it’s the latter, I sincerely hope it wasn’t one of my students.