- I remember the first eight digits of Pi and am embarassed that I haven't memorized twice that many.
- I remember that 1729 = 1^3 + 12^3 = 9^3 + 10^3 is the smallest number that can be written as a sum of two cubes in more than one way.
- I remember that Don Mattingly hit .327 in 1987.
- I remember old street addresses and telephone numbers.
- I remember that 561 is the first Carmichael number.
I stopped to fill up gas at an Esso station located just off the freeway. When I went inside to pay, I confidently handed the clerk my Army gas card (this allows me to buy gas at a price that is about half what the Germans pay) and quickly entered the four digit PIN code necessary to complete the transaction. I even began with some chit chat in German.
The machine processed for a minute and then reported that the PIN code was incorrect. Hmmm. I must have fat-fingered it. So I tried again. And for a second time, the machine indicated an incorrect PIN.
Normally I buy gas at the local military base where the PIN code is not required. So this is a number I do not use very often. But I had used it without incident just a few weeks prior during both of our separate trips to Berlin and the Netherlands. So really there was no excuse for getting the code wrong twice in a row.
The store was empty when I walked in but now there were two people behind me in line waiting to pay for gas. I was not particularly worried about them because I assumed I could keep trying the PIN code until I got it correct. And I knew I would eventually get it correct. But then the clerk explained (in German, of course) that only three attempts were allowed. If I got it wrong a third time, I would have to pay the German price for gas (on the order of $7.50 per gallon).
The pressure was on. I did not understand what had gone wrong the first two times. So I tried again. Still wrong.
EC card and paid with that. Of course, it too requires a four digit PIN and I got the correct PIN on the first attempt.
Having paid a heavy price for gas, I stumbled away from the register and began the walk of shame back to the car. A few minutes after we had left the gas station, I remembered the PIN code (I had been attempting to use the code for a different card). When I told Tina the story (before we left the gas station), she asked me how much I paid for the gas. I told her and she hasn't mentioned it since.
When I went back to work on Monday, I told the story to one of my coworkers. We both agreed that if one of our wives had failed to remember the PIN, this would have not have been so easily forgotten. Thanks to Tina for being so nice about my rather expensive mistake. I will try to be better about returning the favor.