Suicidal Math Teacher (The Downs and Downs of Mr. Greenwald)

By Sam Jarvis

The only thing Mr. Greenwald liked was numbers. Problem solving of any other kind was just too hard. Every day, he went to work in a bad taupe suit and looked into the eyes of 25 freshman. Was this all his life had become? A turkey sandwich for lunch and chalk on his hands? He stood in front of the class.

“Say there was a train traveling 70 miles per hour, and 3 miles down the track I’d tied myself to the rails.” He began. “How long would it take the train to hit me?”

“Don’t you mean how much time would you have to free yourself?” Rachel Cunningham asked.

“No.” He responded. Abigail Billows raised her hand.

“2.57 minutes.”

“Not soon enough, I say. But correct.” Mr. Greenwald paced as students passed notes and stared at the walls. He stopped, noticing chalk on his pants. He tried to brush it off but ended up spreading it even more. “Now let’s say-“ he continued. “I was at a record store and they were having a sale. Buy one CD for $13, get another 30% off. If I had $35 and planned on jumping out of my apartment window later that night, how many CDs could I buy?” Mr. Greenwald waited for a response. Trevor McGinley blinked at him.

“Um, sir? We’re supposed to be learning about parabolas today.” The class erupted in laughter as Mr. Greenwald set his chalk down. A paper football was launched in his general vicinity. He exhaled, rubbing his eyes with such force that he wondered if gouging them out should be part of today’s lesson plan. His vision soon refocused on the stupid kids in front of him.

“What if I had a gun and was going to shoot myself in the head. How far away could I hold it and still have it kill me instantly? Bullets travel at 1,126 feet per second, if that helps.” Abigail again raised her hand as Mr. Greenwald nodded in her direction.

“I would suggest putting the muzzle right up to your skull if you wanted to guarantee being killed instantly. The velocity of the bullet wouldn’t really matter at that point.”

“Also,” Rachel Cunningham chimed in. “Your sandwich just fell on the floor.”

Read more of my short humor pieces here.

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