My parents owned a small grocery store when I was younger and there were many times I had to watch the store while my Dad ran out to make deliveries or pick up fresh meat and vegetables. We had a cash register that was from the early 1900’s. I still have it in my basement. If someone came in and their bill came to 9 dollars and 43 cents, I had to press the 3 dollar button three times and then the 40 and 3 buttons at the same time. If I was given a ten-dollar bill I had to figure out how much change they had coming to them. Sometimes they gave me a ten-dollar bill and three pennies to round out the amount so they wouldn’t receive pennies in the change.
Times have changed. Now when I pay for something the cashier enters the amount I give them and the change is automatically calculated. It’s pretty easy, or so you would think. But sometimes just to have a little fun, I’ll give a cashier silver or pennies in addition to the bills I handed over. So if the bill is 21 dollars and fifty cents, I may give them 25 dollars and fifty cents, or Heaven forbid, 31 dollars and fifty cents, so I can get a ten-dollar bill back. Sometimes, if pennies are involved, I’ll throw a few of them into the equation, just to add to the ball of confusion.
By the look on their faces, you would think I just handed them an exam on Advanced Differential Equations. They look at the money in their hand, then look up at me, as if I’m going to offer some help. Then they look at the money again, thinking that maybe they made a mistake, then look at the open draw of the register, hoping that maybe the answer is written on a cheat sheet they may have missed. Sometimes a manager notices their confusion and comes over to help. That’s when the real fun begins. The cashier, raises their money filled hands in the direction of the manager as if in surrender. So what does the manager do? (S)He looks at the cashier, then at the money, then at me, then at the register and begins doing what can only be described as Managerial Math. I’m not sure what that is, I only know some things are written on a piece of paper, additional buttons are pressed on the register and I’m told they have to void out the sale and start over again, as if that would temper my sadistic behavior.
At some point during this confusing transaction I give in and instruct them how much I should receive in change. At that point, I could tell them anything and the confused, red-faced cashier would be happy just to get rid of me. Hmmm….that’s a thought.
I don’t know what happened to calculating simple math. All I know is that it’s lost somewhere behind the many counters I’ve visited in recent years.
Now, I’m not telling you what to do for fun. I’m sure many of you enjoy your own evil tendencies. But if you’re ever in a store and remember this post, have a little extra change in your pocket and some time on your hands, well…..there are much less fun ways to spend ten minutes or so of your day.
You can thank me later.