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That could buy a lot of pie.

Pi memorization leads to lucrative act of kindness

This story originally ran in 2016 but it running again today in honor of Pi Day.

It started out as a typical Monday: a disgruntled haze of snooze buttons and mismatched socks, so when I walked into my office a little before 9:30 a.m., I thought the high point of my morning would be a steamy cup of Valentine coffee.

I noticed it right away – an envelope in the middle of my desk, my only piece of mail from the weekend. It looked different from my usual work mail. My name and address were clearly hand scrawled. Milwaukee was misspelled. The zip code was in the wrong spot.

And there was no return address.

For a second, I hesitated to open it and I wondered if maybe it was a piece of hate mail. Years ago, I did receive an angry letter about my "disgusting and unholy" article subject matter. But this was not that.

Inside, I found a typed letter. This is what it said:

Ms. Snyder,

This is a small token of admiration for your son's achievement of learning Pi to 100 places. I hope he continues with his math success. I don't want any notoriety with this, I just wanted to reward a young man.

Best wishes,

An OnMilwaukee fan

The person is referring to the fact my son, just for fun, learned the first 103 digits of pi for Pi Day (March 14) and as a reward I bought him an apple pie from Bakers Square. I posted about this on social media, along with a video of Levi, who is 12, reciting the digits.

But, but, but – back to the envelope that was on my desk this morning. It did not only contain a letter of congratulations, but a money order, made out to my son, via me, for $314.15 – the first five digits of pi. The check is signed "An Admirer Of Pi."

I could not wait to tell Levi. I thought about going over to Golda Meir, where he attends sixth grade, to tell him the crazy, wonderful news, but I didn't. Instead, I smiled all day, and cried twice, at the unbelievable kindness of a stranger.

When I was finally able to hand the envelope to Levi, he repeated the words "oh my God" about a dozen times. "I am in awe that someone would do this," he said.

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