I am perplexed, confused and totally stymied by this math problem. Now I admit I went to CPS (Chicago Public Schools) and math was not my most favorite subject. In high school I took algebra and geometry. I avoided math in college. By the time I went to school for computer programming (which is totally math-driven), math and I had a good understanding.

Now the math problem I am stymied by is one that I want someone who reads this column to help me out with. Let me tell you what has me perplexed and see if someone can help me out with the answer.

When the Wal-Mart store in Evergreen Park opened in January of this year, we were told that 25,000 people had applied to that store for the 325 jobs that were available. Out of the 25,000 applicants, only 500 didn’t have a Chicago address. So that means 24,500 people from Chicago applied for those jobs.

On SEvergreen Parkt. 14, my alderman, Emma Mitts (37th), wrote a letter to the Sun-Times saying that over 14,000 people applied for the Wal-Mart jobs at the new, soon-to-be-opened store in her ward (which officially opened yesterday). That is the Wal-Mart that sits across the alley from the homes of the people who live in the 1600 and 1700 blocks of north Keating. Now to be generous, I will round Ald. Mitts’ figure of over 14,000 to 14,500.

So here is the math problem that is perplexing me. If the Evergreen Park Wal-Mart got applications from 24,500 Chicagoans and the behind-those-folks-homes Wal-Mart got 14,500 applications, why is there a 10,000 application difference? In Evergreen Park, you only had the choice of the 95th street bus or the Western bus. Our Wal-Mart is serviced by the North Avenue bus, Grand Avenue bus and Cicero bus. Plus the Division Street bus and Armitage Avenue buses are just four short blocks away. If you expand it out to eight blocks, that includes the Chicago Avenue bus, the Fullerton Avenue bus, the Pulaski Avenue bus and the Central Avenue bus. So transportation shouldn’t have been an issue, since all of those bus lines do serve an el stop as well.

So how is it that the Evergreen Park Wal-Mart attracted 10,000 more applicants than the one on the West Side? You all remember we were described as “impoverished.” Y’all remember hearing that “we need jobs.” So with Austin alone having over 110,000 census residents (and probably twice that number in reality), how come the “backyard” Wal-Mart got 10,000 less applications? Did those 10,000 folks get jobs between January and September? Did Chicago loose 10,000 residents? Are Chicagoans “scurred” to come to the West Side?

I heard ads on the radio telling people to go to 5454 W. North Ave. for the applications to work at Wal-Mart. Why I even saw ads in the paper about Wal-Mart. Every community group and church was made aware of the coming of Wal-Mart. I still can’t figure out what happened to those 10,000 people who needed jobs. I have wracked my brain trying to figure out how and why one store could generate so many applications and the other store barely generate more that half … unless …

Naw, I shouldn’t think that. I mean-naw, that is wrong of me to assume. Well … maybe, just maybe somebody miscounted the number. Maybe there weren’t really 25,000 applications for those jobs. I mean in all the stories I read, only Wal-Mart had that count. There wasn’t a story on TV about 25,000 people blocking 95th and Western as they sought those jobs. All the newspaper accounts tell of thousands applying for Wal-Mart jobs, but when you read the story, they are quoting some Wal-Mart official about the numbers.

This Sunday, at 9 p.m., call me and tell me if you can solve my mystery math problem of the missing 10,000 applicants. Give me a shout out and tell me why the West Side was less popular than Evergreen Park. Call 605/772-3200 (this is long distance so use your cell) and enter this Access code: 806598#. For cellphone users, this is just like a local call using your nighttime minutes.

If you have cable, you can check me out on Friday, Oct. 6 at 8 p.m. on cable channel 21. I will be a guest on Trick City along with Bill “Dock” Walls.

Contact: westside2day@yahoo.com