PEMDAS, the Ship's Accountant - A Fairytale.

photo by Masreth Fatima

PEMDAS was a sailor, or he wanted to truth he wasn't a good candidate as he had one short leg and wasn't older than 12 years. His mother sewed him excellent suits and sent him to the grammaticus for tutelage in exchange for her tailoring skills. 

She never told her son that his father was Poseidon, whom she'd met once in the agora. The old god was drunk on mead and didn't seem very godlike at the time, or maybe his swagger was from lack of familiarity with solid land, not so much intoxication. He was alluring, whatever the cause, and she succumbed to his allure on a pile greens and potato peels behind stacks of chicken crates.

"You're so smart, and so smart," she'd joke with her son, who also swaggered a bit due to his leg. "The grammaticus is very impressed with your mental acuity. And you have the best suits! One day you'll be accountant for a senator!" Pemdas did not want to be an accountant; he'd kiss his mother on the cheek and squeeze her hand, trying to not look as disconsolate as he felt on the inside.

He went to the docks every Saturday morning and tried to convince the ships' captains that he was a valuable addition to their crew, but none would even look at him, let alone listen. 

"I can tell you how many apples you're transporting," he shouted from the dock. Finally a grizzly sailor leaned over and sneered at him.

"Oi, look, Cap'n! 'Ere's that lad wot wants a job!" The captain appeared next to the sailor and stared at Pemdas with a  hard eye, while his other eye looked out to sea. Pemdas gave his best pitch.

"Consider that a crate of apples contains 1 bruised apple for every 30 apples in the crate. Additionally, your second crate has been damaged and apples are falling out. So the first crate has 29 apples; the second is 29 discounting a rotten one and 20 apples rolling across the deck..." The sailor laughed, and spit a seed at the boy. "...and deduct the one your first mate just got done eating. 51 apples." 

Pemdas was hired immediately to monitor inventory. He was the best-dressed of any accountant on the seas. It's rumored his father Poseidon was proud, because a ship that took Pemdas on its crew never encountered a storm.


  1. Pedmas HAS to be part deity being able to solve a word problem. I can do the math signs and symbols, but throw in words and I'm out. I would like to meet Pedmas, he seems a good lad.


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