I never understood the appeal of potato chips. I don’t find them particularly offensive, but the plain varieties are bland and boring. I do enjoy some of the more boldy flavored ones, such as sour cream and onion or salt and vinegar. 

I have also never understood math. I think it is an important thing, and I have the utmost respect for those who can apply it, but my education in the subject was given to me by a series joyless alcoholic misanthrops who saw teaching as duty secondary to coaching basketball. There is one noteworthy exception to this; my high school geometry teacher was quite good, but all of the other ones were not only unsuited to teach the subject, but were unsuited, in my opinion, to be around children. 

So I was able to avoid math classes after high-school by focusing on the social sciences. I also avoided potato chips, for the most part. And although I used a lot of math in my former job, it was almost exclusively geometry, which as I previously mentioned, was taught to me by someone competent. 

When I was forced to leave my previous job, due to its mental toxicity, I decided to go back to school at a community college to kill time and allow me to access G.I. Bill benefits. This is mostly irrelevant, but it sets the stage for the confluence of the two things I have included in the title of this post, which are math and potato chips. 

If someone asked me, “What is the worst torture you could imagine for someone?” prior to today, I would probably have said something about papercuts and bleach. Now, however, I am sure that the worst possible experience one can have in life is sitting through an entire two-hour math class, taught in almost incomprehensible, heavily Eastern European accented English, while a hipster sits behind you and unapologetically goes to town on a full-sized bag of Lays. 

Prior to the start of class, Captain Crunch, as I have named him,  had opened the loud and crinkling bag and was open-mouth chewing and smacking through fistfulls of chips at a time, but I had assumed he would stop when lecture began. However, as the professor began her lecture, he merely slowed down, delicately chewing through the chips rhythmically, which somehow made it worse. Despite clear direction from my brain, my ears could not decide whether to focus on the chips or on the lecture, finding both simultaneously way-too-loud and unappealing. 

We took a break in the middle of class, and I retreated to the quiet of my car for about six minutes. When I returned to the classroom, Captain Crunch was still in there, now masticating with the sound of a sledgehammer slamming into a pile of gravel.

 Am I the only person who can hear this? Am I going insane? These were my thoughts as the second half of the class began, and we were given quiet time to work on some problems from our test-review. Minutes passed as I tried to simplify a complex fraction to the beat of a bear-trap collapsing around a bag of ice, forty times per second. Seated adjacent to a glass window, I was literally able to hear an echo from the cacophony.  

A hero finally intervened. An older man in the front row stood up and turned around towards Captain Crunch. “Dude, cut it out with the fuckin’ chips,” he said loudly. 

“Sorry,” the chewer said, mouth full of potato. 
I joined in a small smattering of applause as Captain Crunch clipped the bag shut and put it under his desk. From my seat, I could see relief on the faces of the twenty-or-so other students. I had not been insane. 

So here’s a pro-tip for life: don’t eat potato chips. If you must eat them, eat them alone. If you can’t eat them alone, don’t eat them in a math class. If you can’t go an entire math class without eating them, maybe community college isn’t for you. Maybe you should drop out, buy a panel-van, take the back seats out of it and replace them with a mattress, and tell everyone you are starting a band. Just live in your van, alone, and eat potato chips.