Until the summer of 2001, at 24 years old I truly believed I was stupid. Until that point trying to do any for of math was excruciating. Any time I start the process and experienced any form of stimuli it was like someone erased the process from my memory.
I can’t tell you how many math tutors I had because there were too many to count. But I can tell you that I failed grade 10 math four times.
That magical summer my girlfriend (now wife) packed up our belongings and moved to Lake Tahoe Nevada for the summer. Lake Tahoe is a huge hotspot for the rich and famous and every year about two thousand people from around the world migrate there to work in the gaming industry.
My goal was to work in a casino, but I didn’t want a job that required me to do math. I hoped to be a slot attendant, emptying and refilling slot machines. To my surprise management pushed me to be a Blackjack Dealer. I was scared, no matter how much I tried to tell them I couldn’t count they insisted.
I quickly realized that most of the people who migrated to Lake Tahoe from around the world to work in the gaming industry did not speak English. In the gaming industry part of the casinos success is based on the employees engaging with the customer, to help them forget why they are there. Speaking broken English make engaging with customers very challenging.
So, they insisted the English speaking Canuck go to dealer school. The pressure was on, pass the course and become a Blackjack Dealer or fail and scramble to find another job that would have paid significantly less.
The experience was life changing for me. Because I had something tactile to manipulate I was able to do the math. Now that there was a context for me to add and subtract I could suddenly do it in my head by imagining the poker chips as I went through the process.
All these years I believed that I couldn’t do math. The people closest to me had me believe I was dumb. All of the sudden I realized that I wasn’t dumb, everyone who tried to teach me how to do math tried to teach me the same thing the same way.
After my diagnosis and taking prescribed medication the mantra for what would become my business came to me: Don’t dis-my-ability, I may not learn in a conventional manner but this does not mean I cannot learn, only that you have not been able to reach me.
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