“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

If you’re not familiar with the Charles Dickens novel, A Tale of Two Cities, you might not have recognized its opening line. But whether you’ve read the novel or not, there must have been times in your life, perhaps your working life, in which you’ve felt the seemingly contradictory truth in that line.

We were reminded of that contradiction in a conversation we had with a risk manager for a restaurant chain. To protect his identity, we’ve identified him as RM (risk manager) in the transcript that follows. We’ve identified ourselves (modestly, of course) as CE (claims expert).

Here’s the transcript:

CE: Hi. Thank you for looking at our website and contacting us. Please let us know how we can be of service to you.

RM: Thank you for taking the time for this call. The truth is I reached out because I thought Cloud Claims looked interesting.

CE: That’s a great place to start. Do you have a claims system at present?

RM: I do.

CE: Do you mind if we ask what system you’re using?

RM: Not at all. It’s called Claims Bomb.

CE: Okay … well … how do you like it?

RM: I love it. It’s automated so many of the process I was doing manually.

CE: Excellent. Can you tell us what kind of reports it gives you.

RM: What kind of who?

CE: Maybe that’s not the best place to start. Does Claims Bomb let you tie individual claims to the incidents that precipitated them?

RM: No. But it does number all my claims. So, all I have to do is go back to figure out what caused them in the first place.

CE: Is that a distraction?

RM: It depends on what else I have to do.

CE: Right. Of course. And does Claims Bomb let you attach files in various digital formats?

RM: Isn’t that why God invented paper?

CE: Are you experiencing any backlog in the claims you have to manage?

RM: Yes. But the only people who complain are the ones whose claims aren’t being paid.

CE: Alright, then. Just one more question: Overall, how do you feel about Claims Bomb?

RM: I hate it.

CE: But you said earlier you love it.

RM: Yeah. But that was before I realized all the stuff it doesn’t do.

CE: We’re here to help when you’re ready.

RM: Are you busy right now?

Chapter Two

The moral of the story is this: There are good reasons to have a headache. Claims management isn’t one of them.

Please let us know how we can help you feel better.

In case you’re not aware, today is International Pi (π) Day, March 14 or 3.14.

The day is named in honor of Arnaldo Pi, the inventor of mathematics, who realized if he calculated the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, he’d come up with 3.14. He also realized its decimal representation never ends and never settles into a permanently repeating pattern. And he was astute enough to realize, therefore, that he could never sell pi as an end-to-end solution because it didn’t exactly have an end.

What Arnaldo did not realize, however, is that his formula for calculating the area of a circle — πr— would land him in hot water with the WAG (World’s Authoritarian Grammarians). According to the WAG, the formula, πr2, is grammatically incorrect. Rather, the WAG insisted, the formula should be πisbecause π is singular.

Arnaldo’s Defense

As a means of justifying his formula, Arnaldo wrote the following letter to the WAG in hopes that they might leave him and his formula alone or at least cut him some slack:

Esteemed Members of the WAG,

I appeal to you for some latitude in rendering my formula for calculating the area of a circle on the following grounds:

First, I’m the inventor of mathematics, for cryin’ out loud. Nobody ever did this before. Since I’m making it up as I go along, how can you say I’m wrong?

Second, what about Toys ‘R’ Us? You let a retail chain that sells junk to impressionable kids get away with that — and you want to bust my chops?! I have to say it feels like I’m being singled out unfairly.

Finally, I think you have to decide whether you’ll err on the side of mathematical accuracy or grammatical accuracy. After all, you can’t have your pi and eat it, too.

Yours sincerely in numbers,

Arnaldo Pi

The Verdict

Arnaldo, as we now know, prevailed. That’s why all of us are now able to calculate the areas of circles with mathematical precision, albeit with grammatical incorrectness. But who cares? Arnaldo’s victory gives us all the more reason to celebrate International Pi Day, regardless of whether we prefer apple, peach, blueberry, strawberry, rhubarb, chocolate, custard, banana cream, lemon meringue, key lime, or mince.

Eat responsibly.