Since infancy, I have always been fascinated by flashlights and calculators. These interests have waxed and waned throughout my childhood and teens, but are very much present in my adult years. In December of 1997, when I was ten going on eleven, and many other times throughout my childhood, teens and even into my adult life, my mom gave me some of the calculators that her students had discarded, despite them still being fully functional. My mom teaches high school math courses at a private school and many of her students are very well off. Therefore, it’s not an issue for them to discard certain material items of value such as a calculator. Most people at that age only use calculators because they are a required academic item and not something of amusement. To me however, in my childhood, as well as my teen and still in my adult years, a discarded calculator was not only a cool collector’s item, but a relatively cheap form of amusement. My parents didn’t have a computer in the house until 1998 and didn’t subscribe to Internet until 2000. I was always into technology, even before my parents had an Internet subscription and once they did, I was glued to the computer for hours sometimes days on end. Well I couldn’t drive yet and even after I could, I didn’t have my own car until I was nineteen, so I was a homebody on the computer for most of my teen years. Anyway, this particular calculator that was given to me in December of 1997 was made for or by an electronics company known as “Royal.” I’ve seen personal organizers also of this brand. I cannot remember the model number to save my life. All I know is that it had a single line segmented LCD and performed many of the common scientific and trigonometric functions. It was probably made around the 1980’s or very early 1990’s. Anyway, the next morning I was standing on the western side side of my paternal grandparents’ house waiting to catch the school bus, with that calculator in my pocket. Yes, I was everyday carrying before doing so was cool. It was very sunny but cold enough that morning and when I exhaled, it looked like steam was coming out of my mouth and nostrils. I always liked to hang around that side of my grandparents’ house because that is where the electric meter, cable hookup and, telephone junction box all were located and I was always fascinated by stuff like that too. Those of you who know me well enough are by no means surprised by that at all. Anyway, at that moment a plane was flying over, because that part of the neighborhood I grew up in is under a flight route. I was thinking how it would have been cool if I was on that plane using that calculator in my pocket to aid the pilot in figuring out certain variables pertaining to navigation and fuel consumption of that aircraft. I was also thinking about if the people on that plane, since it was flying kind of low, could see the “steam” coming out of me when I exhaled. Because of that, I was also thinking how it must have looked like I was smoking a cigarette despite being only ten years old and how smoking was forbidden when fueling up that aircraft. Unfortunately, the bus came a few minutes later and I stopped thinking about the aircraft and using the calculator to assist the pilots flying it. I probably was more concerned about what songs were playing on the bus radio and also the fact that Christmas was just around the corner.
Unfortunately, that calculator began falling apart sometime later, but my sister still played with it, until it was lost or just gave up the ghost entirely.
There was a time, mostly in my childhood and then in my teens, when I was obsessed with calculators and other handheld devices even more than flashlights, believe it or not. In the Facebook post pertaining to this story, I had stated how I hadn’t found any calculator like it since then and how I had checked on eBay from time to time.
Well, earlier tonight, I had gone out for a drive and stopped at a Rite Aid several towns to the west of me, in Bayou Vista, Louisiana, hoping to talk to the workers about how my favorite cousin had worked for Rite Aid in his retirement and almost until the day he died. As I was browsing the aisles I had seen a calculator that was branded both “Royal” and “Rite Aid” hanging in a blister package on the shelf and selling for $9.99. I picked it up of the shelf then looked closely at the specs and keys. My eyes have been behaving themselves as of lately so I didn’t need my glasses. There are good days and bad days with my vision, I guess. I do plan on seeing an eye doctor as soon as school lets out for the summer and I can get a ride, from my mom since it is difficult to drive myself after an eye exam. After reading thoroughly, I had realized that this is a modern, but possibly better version of the calculator aforementioned in this piece and had remembered my Facebook post five days prior. The model number is 101 for those who wish to do any research on it.
I took it to the cashier and decided to pull out my credit card and purchase it. As the transaction was being processed I told her about how the post I made on Facebook and how I collect calculators. When the transaction was approved I told her where I was from and where I was currently living, but was shocked that she actually knew the location of both towns.
The case and cabinet of this model is blue, but in a few days, I am going back to one of the Rite Aid stores in my area and will try to see if I can purchase one with a black cabinet and case. If I find a black one, I will probably even carry it in my pocket and/or backpack on the regular. That is how impressed I am with the specs! It really does have some high end features, especially for a $10 calculator, by the way.
Nowadays, at almost 31 and a half, I don’t think I myself will ever use it or my more expensive and sophisticated Texas Instruments 36 X Pro calculator to help pilots fly an aircraft, but I could sure write some cool fantasies that entail the very thing.