Ca­sual ‘no math talk’ opine evolves into 32,000 tweets

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STYLE -

From the CBC/Ra­dio Canada pro­gram As It Hap­pens, here’s the story be­hind the anti-math sign posted in the del­i­catessen:

Anna Haen­sch, who teaches at Duquesne Univer­sity in Pitts­burgh, is do­ing re­search at Wes­leyan Univer­sity in Mid­dle­town, Conn. On June 14 she no­ticed this sign posted at Neon Deli: “Please Re­frain From Dis­cussing Math­e­mat­ics While Wait­ing In Line.”

“Well, first I thought what on earth could have hap­pened here to re­quire the mak­ing of a sign to pro­hibit peo­ple from talk­ing about math­e­mat­ics? Im­me­di­ately, you can imag­ine, there must have been some kind of a brawl over fi­bonacci num­bers or cal­cu­lus or some­thing,” she told the ra­dio show.

She snapped a photo and shared it with her fol­low­ers on Twit­ter (@ex­treme­fri­day).

Later she asked a Wes­leyan pro­fes­sor, Dave Pol­lack, what was go­ing on. He ex­plained that the deli owner is friends with peo­ple from the math depart­ment. She names sand­wiches af­ter them. She even named a sand­wich af­ter him, Dave’s Tasty Turkey. One day, he and some math folks were in line to or­der and he got so en­grossed in yakking about math he wouldn’t stop to or­der un­til prod­ded.

The peo­ple with him joked, “Please re­frain from dis­cussing,” etc., be­cause they wanted to speed up the line (tech­ni­cally, it was a line seg­ment).

The owner was there, overheard the re­mark, thought it was funny and posted the sign.

Haen­sch’s orig­i­nal tweet has gar­nered more than 94,000 likes, been retweeted more than 32,000 times and in­cor­rectly as­cribed to a Pitts­burgh deli by … many, in­clud­ing and the Na­tional Pub­lic Ra­dio show Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me.

— Celia Storey

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