SoCS – when it’s gotta be EXact

Listen, I’ve never claimed to be a math genius.  I’ve got solid basic skills and can stretch a bit into the upper maths (at least I hope I can considering the kids are fast approaching those classes), but I’m not the next Einstein.  And I’m okay with that.

What I’m not okay with is the fact that most of people behind a cash register can’t seem to make exact change today.

I know a lot of things have slipped by the wayside to accommodate the country’s push toward improving test scores – we fudge a bit on time given to science and social studies lessons; cursive was dropped then added and maybe dropped again; certain skills were stripped entirely out of language arts, and they’re going light on several math areas that I remember were driven home in my elementary days.

Like clocks.  Real clocks.  There used to be tons of time devoted to understanding analog clocks, which was critical once you moved into elapsed time problems.  Plus it’s a skill I actually use as an adult in real life!  Now they hit it in second and third grade, including lessons on digital clocks (let’s not even talk about how THAT’S NOT A REAL LESSON), and then move it along in fourth.  You didn’t get it?  Then don’t volunteer to cook Thanksgiving supper, I guess.

Money is the other area where I think my kids are getting shortchanged.  (Ba-dum-dum!)  Sure, they studied bills and identifying coins…they even worked on problems about making change.  I guess they’re getting the basic instruction they need, which means all those cash register adults did, too.

So what the hell’s the problem?  Why does everything shut down if the register’s “not working” (aka: telling them what change to give)?  Why do cashiers stare at me blankly when I give them a twenty dollar bill and a quarter when I owe them $10.15?  I can’t be the only person who doesn’t have correct change and doesn’t want to carry a bunch of ones in my wallet.  Surely there are other people in town who pay with bills and coins so they get the change they want.

But no.  The chick at the drive through just stares into her hand like I’ve handed her a snake before finally entering the bizarre amount into her register so it will spit out the correct change.  This isn’t hard math, people!  Give me a dime to make change for the coins and a ten dollar bill for the rest.  Voila!  Exact change.

Even better are the young folks who can’t count up to make exact change.  Like, if their calculator dies or the cash register freaks these kids are bereft.  So for all those poor souls meandering lost through the world of commerce, here’s a primer.

The bill comes to $22.45.  Your customer hands you a fifty dollar bill.  Don’t Panic.  You can do this.  You’re going to count back change into their hand from their owed amount until you hit their paid amount.  So in the example here, a nickel makes 50 cents and then two quarters brings you to $23.  Two ones gets you to $25 and a five dollar bill makes $30.  You need twenty more dollars to reach their fifty dollar payment, so fork over a twenty or two tens and you’re golden.

Being old as dirt, I actually worked one of my first jobs in a camera and card shop that used (brace yourself, now) an old fashioned cash register that didn’t tell you the change.  You had to do the math yourself.  In front of the customer.  On the fly.  But I’ll tell you what…I learned to count out exact change like a beast behind that counter.

Everyone should have to work a job like that.


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Check out Linda’s blog to check out her Stream of Consciousness Saturdays.  There’s always a fun prompt and lots of neat blogs to discover.  This week’s prompt was writing a post using a word with “ex” in it.

7 thoughts on “SoCS – when it’s gotta be EXact

  1. When I was 14, I started working at my father’s store. He had a cash register that (I kid you not) had been in use in the building since 1891. First thing we learned: how to make change and count it back. Now, every time I have to tell the kid behind the cash register how much change to give me, I die a little inside….

    Liked by 1 person

    • My guys go to a barber shop in town that’s been around forever, and its cash register is like that. Big round push buttons for the numbers, a little like a typewriter — it’s so cool! I’m with you on that whole doing their job thing. I figure if I have to TELL you how much change to give back (and you trust that I’m not cheating you) then I should get a bonus. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This sort of thing can work in your favour, though.
    Many years ago, in my misspent youth, I bought a drink in my local pub and gave the (new) barmaid a twenty pound note. She slotted my money into the little clip on top of the till, where they used to put notes whilst counting out change, then proceeded to carefully count out the correct change and shut the till. Then she took all the change, added the twenty from the clip to the cash in her hand and gave it all back to me, resulting in me making about £18 profit on one drink.

    You’d think this was a good enough deal for a Friday night at the pub, but it didn’t stop there; I went back to get another pint later and happened to get the same barmaid.
    She did exactly the same thing again, while I watched with barely controlled hilarity.

    That night ended up being quite messy, from the little I remember about it.

    Liked by 1 person

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