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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Come on! Let's Hear You Count it Back to Me!

No one counts back your change anymore.

Remember that first job, probably in 9th or 10th grade? Someone handed you a ten for a $2.50 item and you counted their change back to them: 50 makes it three, four, five, and another five makes it ten. Thank you! Come again!
Surprisingly enough, it occurred to me yesterday, as a clerk handed me an awkward lump of cash, change, and receipt, that I'd not had change counted back to me in years.

I share this with my friend Mary.

"Ha!" she says. "I think it's because they can't add."

"You do realize," I say, "that we are of the generation that checks our calculators by working it out on paper."

She laughs. "I had an argument with someone just the other day that there was no way that six 39-cent cookies came to four dollars."

"What? That's stupid. Where did she come up with that?"

"It was what the cash register kept ringing up! I'd tell her that it was wrong, she'd zero it out, ring it up again and there it was! Four dollars! So I told her, look, let's say the cookies are 40 cents apiece. There're six of them. Six times forty is what?"

There is a slight pause as Mary and I multiply six times forty in our heads.

"So,” I say, “what'd she say?"

"She didn't say anything. She just kept ringing it up and re-ringing it up and the damn thing kept telling her that the total was four dollars.” Mary shakes her head sadly. “I finally had to leave."

I stifle a small gasp.  "Without the cookies?"

"Do you believe it?!"

Initially, you know, I didn't believe it, but Miz Marybeth Campbell, of the Tight-Fisted Campbells, is not one to squander her money.

Nor is she one to abandon cookies.

What’s the world coming to?

26 comments:

Rene Foran said...

this is frightening
a world that can't do simple mental math
and a Cambell without cookies

I don't know about you but I'm stocking my prepper pantry

vanilla said...

Rudimentary life-skill number 1: poking buttons. RL-S number 2: There is no number 2.

jenny_o said...

She should have taken the cookies hostage and stood her ground until the hopefully older and non-math-challenged manager was called. But I suppose that's easier said than done in the heat of the moment.

Launna said...

I think it's crazy the people cannot add in their head... that and simple spelling... ;-)

Perpetua said...

What do they do in a power cut when their tills won't work? Sheesh....

Teresa Evangeline said...

Yes, when the EMP hits, or hackers decide it's time, and we are without all our techno gizmos, including all cars post-1983, I see multitudes standing at cash registers, frozen in place, waiting for the world to start turning again.

We got skillz, girl.

Gigi said...

I'd be so very screwed if my calculator stopped working - mental math? Just never got it.

Delores said...

I can remember my Mom standing at the grocery store counter mentally adding each item as it went through the checkout and telling the girl at the counter she had made an error. She had, too.

Suldog said...

Absolutely true. This is something MY WIFE has griped about for years. The worst part of it, as far as I'm concerned, is the part you mostly glossed over, early on, and that's the hideous way we get handed our change all in one indistinguishable lump with the receipt. And I'll bet dollars to donuts (although donuts cost about a dollar now, so there's goes the efficacy of that saying) that half the time you don't even have the cashier tell you how much a purchase is. Instead, they just stare at you, waiting for you to read it for yourself off of some monitor.

The modern world is Satan's bingo parlor.

fishducky said...

We were throwing a surprise anniversary party for friends in Las Vegas & had invited other friends & relatives. When we got to our hotel the computers were down. They couldn't tell us which rooms we had or if anyone else in our party had arrived yet--maybe even more frustrating than not getting your cookies!!

joeh said...

4 carry the 5...18+5 23...$4.00 What is the problem?

Merlesworld said...

Many years ago I worked in a newsagent on a bus stop on one of the busiest roads in Sydney . Monday morning you would get hundreds of people in to buy their weekly bus tickets you didn't have time to close the till, you had to ring it up but all change was worked out in your head it's using your brain that makes you sharp. I can no longer do it so fast but still make a estimate of my shopping and check my receipt. I often pick up mistakes it's worth the effort.
I am worried about the up and coming children they have problems with basic maths.
Merle.....

Linda O'Connell said...

They can't make change and they can't say, "You're welcome," when someone says, "Thank you." They respond, "No problem!" Now, that is a problem.

Geo. said...

Sometimes change doesn't come easily.

Jo-Anne Meadows said...

What a sad state the world is coming to but I get it, although most of the time shop assistants will count back your change here.

Rose L said...

I was in a store once when the electricity went out. I was waiting for change for what I had bought. The young man behind the register informed me that he could not give me change even though the drawer was open. "The register tells me how much change to give, and since the electricity is out, it will not tell me." I was shocked! I told him to just count up but he did not understand. "I gave you a $20 and the cost is $14, so you start at $14 and give me money until you get to $20...$1 to make it $15 and then a $5 to make it $20." He seemed confused and insisted on calling the manager up to help.

Rosemarie Blackthorn said...

*sigh*

I'll sit quietly here.

I'm not numerate. I would be that cashier...

*sniff*

Kymbo Whitford said...

It seems most young people dont do math, give them a formula to work out and you get a blank stare

River said...

I often made a game of working out the change before the register opened and told me. ridiculous how pleased I was to get it right 99% of the time. I worked through a couple of electrical failures, if the till is already open, I gave the change, but then had to close the till and after that nothing can be done until the power comes back on. All the scanners are electronic too.
I have to say though, that if my register insisted on the same mistake, after two tries, I would ring up a "no sale" and give the customer her cookies and change. it's senseless to just keep ringing it up and getting the same wrong amount.

jeanie said...

I had a cashier "count back" change to me the other day - in that she counted out the change that the till had directed for her.

It is a pale imitation.

FWIW - I was a barmaid at a bar that had a very old fashioned till in the days before we lost our 1 and 2 cent pieces - we had to add up IN OUR HEADS the total to ask for as we made the drinks, and work out IN OUR HEADS the change we had to give, and then count it back EVERY TIME.

I still do it when I am on cafeteria duty at my daughter's school markets - it confuses the young and bemuses the old - and I am now in the latter category!!

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

It's a travesty--counting back change AND the "thank you" are becoming a rare breed of customer service.

Kelly said...

I always count back change to people...as much to check myself as to assure them of the correct change!

Daisy said...

It is definitely a different world out there from when we were kids. It's all about what the machines say these days.

Jennifer A. Jilks said...

I worked so hard teaching this to my students!
sigh.

Diane Tolley said...

My husby got a free dozen bottles of Apple Cider because the clerk insisted that three dozen was 24! Scary!

~~Silk said...

Want to see a kid's head explode? On a $7.75 tab, hand the clerk a ten and three ones, and refuse the ones when they try to hand them back.

It's sad how surprised they are when the machine tells them the change.