Susan Maddock of South Australia has been counting for a long time. So long, in fact, that she has become the first woman in recorded history to count to 1,072,958,400.1
It has taken her almost 29 years. She says she began counting when she was “about four and a half years old.” Her mother confirms this, and adds that “she learned to count in her sleep at a rather early age.”2 Her parents didn’t seem to mind her constant counting. It kept her out of trouble, especially through her teenage years. “We didn’t have to worry about boys, dating, dances, or any of those things, because she was always counting. She got good enough grades, even though the teachers always sat her in the back of the classroom in a sound-proof glass enclosure. I think she always liked being alone, feeling like she was exceptional in some way.”
Susan says her dream of holding a world record began on her fourth birthday, when she received a Guinness Book of Records as a gift. Since she didn’t really know how to do anything else exceptional, she decided to start counting, and just kept going as long as she could, which turned out to be 28 years, 9 months, and 27 days in all. Once she knew she had the women’s record for counting, she felt “pretty satisfied,” but she might have continued if her tongue didn’t happen to get swollen by a bee sting.
Now that she has attained the record, we asked her what she’d like to do next. “Well,” she replied, “I think I’d be open to meeting people, finding out what life’s all about. Maybe get married. Actually, maybe I’ll write a book about myself, and all the adversity I overcame in my struggle to make it to the world record.”
“High School Probability and Statistics (Basic),” by CK-12 Foundation. CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons