## Tuesday, June 19, 2012

### Counting Money

I grew up in the days when during basic math class, they taught us to make change. In other words, if someone had to pay \$7.75, and handed you a \$10 bill, when giving them change you would start with what they paid and count it back to them. Out loud to prove you were doing it right. Like this:

Start with "\$7.75" (say it out loud), add a quarter and say "\$8.00" (because 7.75 + .25 = 8), add a dollar and say "\$9.00", and another dollar and say "\$10.00". There. Change given and everyone knew it was correct.

My first job was at JCPenney. Back then, a lot of people still paid cash for things, so I used that method a lot. On those occasions where someone paid with a credit card, we would have to make an imprint of the card with that little slidey machine, then we would have to pick up the phone and call the credit department to get an authorization number for the transaction. It took anywhere from 3-10 minutes to check someone out! And it was the norm. And if they paid by check? We had to make sure their phone number was on the check AND we had to write their driver's license number on it. Seriously, when was the last time you even had to show your ID to use your credit or debit card? (Okay, that did happen to me the other day, but it's not very often.)

If you can relate to the old way of counting change, you might appreciate this experience:

I was at the cash register at a fast food joint. I don't eat fast food. But I do occasionally enjoy a milkshake. *clearing my throat*

"That'll be \$12.23."

I hand him a \$20 bill and a quarter. Because I already have a wallet full of change and don't need any more.

"Okay here's \$7.99, your order will be right up." He handed me a pile of change.

*blink, blink* "Um, I gave you a quarter, right? \$20 and a quarter."

"Yes, I punched that into the register and it told me \$7.99 change." He was pleased with himself.

*blink, blink* "It was \$12.23, right? And I gave you 25 cents to cover that 23. So why do I have so much change?"

"Hmmm, that's a good question." Face turning red while he studies the receipt.

When I can stand it no longer I reach over the counter and point. "See here? You entered \$20.22, not \$20.25. The change should have been \$8.02."

Panic ensues as his brain cannot keep up with my math. "Oh, right. It's been a long day." Nervous laugh as he has the manager open the till again.

"Okay, \$8.03, right?"

Silence.

"Oh, I mean \$8.02. Here you go, those shakes will be right up."

Now to be clear, I don't blame the kid. He's never been taught any other way. It's just one of those moments where I get scared at our dependence on computers to do our thinking for us!

***Ally

Angel Shrout said...

I have commented on the exact same thing, more times than I would care to count. Especially when I see them struggling to count it out even WHEN the computer has figured out the change.

Terri Sonoda said...

I am the worst change counter-outer person you would ever meet. I screw up any change exchange that has any coins other then quarters. I'm pretty good with quarters. We're talking a mature, educated woman here, my friend. I'm just change challenged. It's hard. Don't judge.
LOL

Jaclyn said...

I am wildly embarrassed to admit this ... but whenever I've heard people count out change that way, I've never picked up on what they were doing. Much of the embarrassment here comes from the fact that I was really good in math in school. I understood and enjoyed calculus (only took beginning stages, us journalists don't need too much calc to conduct interviews) and was a member of Mu Alpha Theta, a math honors society. I could stab the math teacher who neglected to show us this method. Der, Jac, how easy!

JennyBean said...

Just how many milkshakes did you buy?!

Seriously, no one counts like that anymore and it makes so much sense. Instead they hand you a wad of cash and along with the receipt (in olden days, they would have put the receipt in the bag with the groceries where it belonged) and then you are left to sort through the money and figure out if they gave you back the right amount, and, of course, there's that &\$#! receipt that you need to put somewhere. Meanwhile, the guy behind you is tapping his foot and everyone's waiting on you to move out of the way.

No respect.

j-tony said...

Oh my gosh are you kidding me? You asked the kid to give you change. What were you doing some sort of r Jedi mind trick or something? What were you thinking givin' him that quarter. Everybody knows you can't pay for something that's \$12.23 with \$20.25. You're lucky you didn't set off some alarms and get carted off to the big house. Honestly....SMH.

Babes Mami said...

It scares me too! A lot! I go around town and see what is happening with the youngsters and get scared for my future.

Ducky said...

I remember those slidey things for the credit card and the insane amount of info you had to take on a check written!

I worked retail at Sears :D I am probably among the few that can count change. It is certainly an extinct skill. SMH... it IS scary!

Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell said...

I remember working with the cheerleaders at concessions, and they had absolutely NO CLUE. It was freaking me out.

Michelle said...

I spent all of my high school and college years working at a grocery store and I could have written this myself. I don't get it. I feel like it isn't a difficult thing to learn!