Correct change, please!

I stopped by a local fast food place yesterday afternoon. I didn’t feel like fixing supper and the restaurant had an old (caloric!) favorite back on the menu for a short time. Had to have one!

I placed an order for the sandwich, a Dr. Pepper, and french fries (the really bad part…), and the total was $4.91.

“Let’s make this easy for the cashier,” I thought as I drove to the pay window. Instead of giving her a $5.00, I’d give her $5.91. Here’s the scheme:

X = ($5.00 + .91) – $4.91, where X is the change coming to me.

It seemed simple enough to me. I trust people reading this post are as smart as I give them – you! – credit for, and realize all I expected back was a $1.00 bill.

I handed the $5.91 to the cashier, who stumbled around, dropped a the 1 cent piece on the floor. She sorted the change into the cash register slots, one $5.00 into the $5.00 slot; three $.25 coins into the $.25 coin slot; one $.10 into the $.10 coin slot; one $.05 coin into the $.05 coin; but (I couldn’t see) I can’t say that the $.01 coin went into the drawer because I don’t know if she found it.

She fumbled around some more, looking confused, stunned, struck between the eyes. As far as I know, her cash register tells her how much money the customer has coming back. Most do these days since most cashiers seem enumerate. Probably can’t tell time with an analog clock, either. I waited some more as cars piled up behind me.

Then she went back to the cash drawer to pull out my change, in coins. Let me finish the equation for you:

X = ($5.00 + .91) – $4.91
X = $5.91 – $4.91
X = $1.00

She handed me these coins:

I may support doubling the minimum wage to $15.00, but some people need to upgrade their math skills first!

I may support doubling the minimum wage to $15.00, but some people need to upgrade their math skills first!

For those who are familiar with US coinage, you see that the change received was $.90, not $1.00, for a shortage of $.10. I told myself not to help the cashier again, and $.10 is a small price to pay for that lesson!

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10 thoughts on “Correct change, please!

  1. Sometimes I think technology has something to do with the dumbing down of America. I worked a couple of jobs in my youth that used “dumb” cash registers. I figured the change and counted it back to the customer to make sure it was correct. Now, the machine figures it for the clerk and you get your bills and coins dumped into your palm. Do you hold up the line to stop to count it? Skills people don’t use, like courtesy and figuring change, evaporate. I miss the good old days when stores wrapped packages in brown paper and tied shoeboxes with string instead of dumping everything into plastic bags.

    • One in awhile, someone will count out change, and I stand there like a statue, struck dumb that there still exists on this planet someone who knows this nearly-forgotten skill!

  2. Have you ever tried to teach someone how to figure sales tax? I did once – nightmare on Elm Street had nothing on this scene and the kid I was trying to teach had a scholarship for Michigan!

    • No, but I can imagine! My state’s department of revenue puts out a laminated chart when the tax came out to help since there are little quirks at the bottom end of purchases where you pay less than the percentage on a dollar. It’s seven percent where I live (5% state, 2% city), which is an unlovely number to multiply any other number by for most people, so the cards helped save people under and over-paying tax in the early days before cash registers could be set up to do the calculations.

  3. rofl! That is like when Erik went to McDonald’s and asked what the difference between the snack wrap & McWrap was…and she actually told him, “One is big and one is small!” I can’t do math to save my doggie life. Give me letters, not numbers! Woof!

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