Thursday, January 29, 2009
The Dinger Calls
The phone rings at 10:15 PM. We worry. We're old and our phone never rings that late unless something is wrong. I look at the caller ID and see my friend Dinger's name. I answer the phone and say "What's wrong with your graphing calculator?" Dinger laughs. He can't figure out how to get the y1 to show up so he can graph a linear regression. He spent 30 minutes working on it and then remembered his old friend POd and decided to stress no more.
Dinger and I have a long graphing calculator history. For a brilliant math guy, he is totally brain dead when it comes to any kind of technology. He has kept a whole group of us entertained for years with his graphing calculator (and computer) woes. A few years ago he called up because he couldn't get rid of his "dots". They were all over his screen and he thought his calculator had the measles. When my husband told him I was out of town, he got visibly upset. He called my cell phone so I could help him with his dots. Dinger carries his graphing calculator with him, whenever we are together. He even had it at his daughter's wedding. He always has some problem with it and counts on me to help him out. Dinger taught AP calculus the year I was on sabbatical and called me from his classroom when he could not figure something out.
To know Dinger is to love Dinger and everyone that has ever come in contact with him feels the same way about him. Many years ago, when all the math teachers in Queens met in the same place for staff development, I had a brilliant idea. I had everyone add a note to the evaluation form proclaiming Dinger, from XXXX High School, the calculator guru. These forms made it to the superintendent's office and then back to Dinger's AP, who knew the true man. Everyone had a good laugh at Dinger's expense (including Dinger--he has a great sense of humor.)
We were on the phone quite a while. It only took 20 seconds for the phone to ring after I had hung it up. It was Dinger again. He checked the time on our conversation and it was 32 minutes and 32 seconds. He had to call back to tell me how mathematical our call was.
I don't get to see Dinger and the rest of our gang as much as I would like. But when I do see him, or even speak to him, I remember that he is one of the people responsible for my love of teaching. He was always smiling and happy. He loved the kids and he loved teaching. He was never too busy to stay late or come in early to help a kid. He was always ready to pick up a basketball and shoot hoops in the school gym. Dinger is only a few years older than I am and was only teaching a few years before I started teaching, but I learned so much from him. All future generations of teachers need a Dinger of their own.