For example, left and right. I am in my late-twenties (*sob sob*) and will happily turn right when you say ‘left’ in full belief that what I’m doing is the intended direction. No matter how many times, or how many tricks I get taught, when it comes to making the decision I just can’t remember which is which. In fact it probably all goes back to a painful childhood memory when my maths teacher made everyone put their left hand up in the air as quickly as possible – I was left stranded, looking around trying to determine whether I should be copying the girl I was facing or do the opposite, much to the delight of a room full of sniggering 8-year-olds. Nowadays I’m a bit more discrete and try to work out which is my writing hand by pretending to write something, then determine that the other hand must be my left. Genius. I know.
Perhaps a less relevant knowledge gap (thank God!) is the fact that I can’t read analogue clocks. Yep, no matter how many times Play School’s Benita told me where the ‘big hand ‘ and ‘little hand’ were on the Rocket Clock, I will always make a mistake when reading an analogue clock and probably end up telling you it’s 12 minutes past 45 o’clock. But I’ve since come up with another genius solution. I bought an analogue watch (to make me look like I can read analogue time) but it has a black face and black hands, so then I just say “oh sorry my watch is just a fashion watch, totally impractical”….my secret stays safe.
However unfortunately terminal knowledge gaps are not restricted to things you’re meant to have learnt as a kid. No you can still acquire new knowledge gaps when you’re an adult. For me, being a finance professional there are some challenging finance concepts which I usually resort to colleagues, Google or Investopedia to figure out. However there is one thing that I just can’t seem to get – foreign exchange. I know, I know, it’s meant to be a simple concept and I’ve tried to understand it, learn it, memorise it, create songs about it….but it’s all in vain. I just can’t do anything that involves foreign exchange rates. When someone mentions anything “foreign” at work I recoil inwardly…like an Andrew Bolt reader [hahaha wait for it….]. I just don’t get which way the rates are quoted – is it 1 AUD = 0.92 US cents or is it 1 USD = 0.92 AUD? Should I divide or multiply? ARGH! Brain explosion!
My FX knowledge gap is so bad that when in Switzerland, I assumed that the conversion of AUD to Swiss Francs was the same as AUD to EUR (ie. you double the price of everything to get a rough cost), right? WRONG. Swiss Francs are actually priced roughly 1:1 – that’s right, 1 AUD equals 1 Swiss Franc. Unfortunately I learnt AFTER I got there and spent 3 weeks rationing my uni student travel budget to the point that I would buy wine for 3 Swiss Francs thinking “oh at least this is basically 6 Aussie dollars so it should be ok” … but no IT WAS $3 AUSSIE wine! It tasted like petrol and made my tongue numb.
However the good thing is that I know that I’m not alone in this. Whether it’s the person who continually can’t distinguish between ‘accept’ and ‘except’ or it’s the non-commerce-student-cum-management-consultant who laughingly uses “I’m not an accountant” as an excuse for having zero financial literacy/commercial knowledge, and thinks that by paying out accountants they can disguise their massive business knowledge gap but really it just draws into question the whole concept of them being consultants for businesses and legitimises the argument that they are actually just a complete waste of space...anyway I’m just saying that I know that I’m not the only one. Pretty sure right now you’re thinking “yeah Yakult to water plants makes sense…I think I might try that…it didn’t work for her because she poured it incorrectly. It will work for me”.