The Stub of a Pencil

I spied the stub of a pencil in the gutter among the dead leaves and other detritus.  I did not pick it up.  It’s value to me did not equal the bother – stopping, bending, cleaning, sharpening, storing, resharpening, discarding.  My parents were Depression era children.  My mother recalled dinners of only garden tomatoes and bread.  My dad was raised by his grandmother because his parents were so poor.  Mom and dad never told us any of this when we were children, just made sure we turned out the lights when we left a room and ate all the food on our plates.  But I still notice waste.

I am reminded of a colleague who went to Africa to teach trigonometry.  Students, scores of them, would walk ten miles to class barefoot.  Many didn’t have a pencil much less paper or a textbook.  They would listen intently and then walk home.  That five inch stub of pencil was lying in the wrong gutter.

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About jrh794

I am a sixty-five year old math instructor at Southern Oregon University. I taught at the College of the Siskiyous in Weed California for twenty-six years. Prior to that I worked as a computer programmer, carpenter and in various other jobs. I graduated from Rice University in 1967 and have a MS in Operations Research from Stanford. In the past I have hand-built a stone house and taken long solo bicycle tours. Now I ride my mountain bike and play golf for recreation.
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