I inherited my Radio Shack 10-Digit Scientific Calculator EC-4032 almost 21 years ago.* Someone left it in my father’s classroom, and when it went unclaimed at the end of the school year, he gave it to me. And like almost every middle-schooler’s calculator, it not only functioned as a math/science tool, but also as an adolescent laugh machine…after all, I know it’s not the only calculator to have had 1134, 0.1134, or 58808 keyed in for “secret” upside-down giggles.
The poor thing was used and abused over its lifetime: it followed me from middle school, to high school, to college and graduate school. Every year, it got a bit more beat up and grody – a scratch here, a ding there, some gunk everywhere. The flip top cover broke off during my Ph.D. qualifying exam. Still, I couldn’t fathom replacing it with a shiny new model. After all, it was solar powered and I knew exactly where the keys I needed were without having to look. My trusty little calculator sidekick followed me from grad school to work, and for the past year has sat in a position of importance underneath my computer monitor, in easy reach.
The calculator had been through a lot, so much so, that I considered it practically indestructible…after all, it survived in my care for 21 years. Sadly, I was mistaken. In less than 5 minutes, my toddler rendered the poor calculator inoperable by prying the case open. Time of death was pronounced at exactly 9:47 am CDT. The heart stopped on the number 4, likely from excessive trauma to the case and severe internal contusions. I’m surprised it managed to display anything. Out of respect, I pieced the poor calculated back together as best I could. There was nothing else to be done.
*Please pretend it was a baby shower gift…I’d hate for this post to date me.