stages of life in the math lab

2003/algebra: As a 34-year-old college freshman, I discover the math lab of my community college. I do my Algebra I homework there. I don’t yet know what the Cartesian plane is, and e is still just a letter to me.

2004/trigonometry: My name and face are known to everyone in the math lab, where I have a reputation for always wanting to to understand things, and not just pass my tests. One day the director of the math lab jokes that I receive my mail there. She later apologizes; I only laugh and thank her for having made my day. I begin helping out the people around me that I can see are stuck on problems.

2005/calculus: I am hired by the math lab as a math tutor. Every now and again I wonder who this person is who just explained that math concept so well. It couldn’t possibly be me, but I am the only me I know. Was it really me?

2006/differential equations: I am a junior at the local state college. I have to call ahead to the community college math lab to be sure that there will even be someone there today who is conversant in the kind of math that I am doing.

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