peeves: math is hard…

81 cents in change

I just popped down to our in-house cafeteria to grab a bit of lunch. My total comes up $5.14 and I hand over a $5 and a $1, already working out the change in my head and wondering in what coin denomination it will be tendered.* Before I can even finish my thought of “3 Q, 1 D, 1 P” the cashier asks me, “Do you have 14 cents?”

Ok, really? I gave you $6. Surely it can’t be hard to punch the buttons, get the amount and return it to me. There wasn’t anyone in line behind me, so it didn’t matter if it took a little while. I actually had patted both pockets before giving her the bills, and her query made me pat them again out of habit just to justify saying “No, I sure don’t.” She made a slight tch noise, took my bills then counted out and handed back my change.

The best part? She only gave me 81¢ back.

Annoying as this is, however, it still ranks lower than when you give a cashier an extra buck so that you get back a $5 instead of four $1 bills** and they immediately say, “You gave me too much.” Honestly, just press the buttons and do what the computer tells you!

* Ever since working as a cashier in multiple places†, I always think about the least number of coins for a given amount of change vs. the cashier’s preferred coinage to give back to avoid having to do too many change runs.

** Or similar depending on the total.

† Kroger, Burger King, High School Concession Stand, Baseball Stadium, and my mother’s art store to name a few.

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4 Responses

  1. Gilahi says:

    After visiting a fast-food place many years ago when their computer was down and the cashier had to crane over her shoulder to get the price on every single thing I’d ordered and then proceeded to give me incorrect change, I swore that if I had to hire a tutor, my daughter would be able to do simple arithmetic in her head. Thankfully, a tutor was never necessary.
    .-= latest entry: "I’ve had enough bad news to last a lifetime" – Del Amitri =-.

  2. Cdf12345 says:

    It amazes me how some people get by with even the most basic of math skills. I went with @b1rd to a hockey game a week ago and bought a $3.75 pretzel paid with a $20. And got $11.50 Back. I was like uh how would you give me any amount that didn’t include 1 quarter?

    So annoying.

  3. From years of experience in this area, I can tell you that there is another plausible explanation. In most cash registers, there is no way for a non-manager to reverse a transaction once it the payment has been tendered into the computer. If she didn’t have to enter the amount and could just give you the change, then she could also back out the transaction and pocket the cash.

  4. f.B says:

    I will never — never — be famous for my achievements in math unless it happens ironically. But seriously: just pause a second and figure out the change. No (reasonable) person is going to judge you for taking 2 more seconds to get it right.

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