Modern Education

or, “When did making change become so difficult?”

So, recently some @#$%^&* got hold of my check card information. Thanks to Visa’s fraud detection system, they were fortunately prevented from actually completing any transactions, so I didn’t lose – even temporarily – any money. Unfortunately, it still means that I’m stuck using cash for everything until my new card comes in.

Today, I stopped at KFC for some popcorn chicken. The total was $6.82, but all I had was a $20 bill and some $1’s. So, I gave the cashier $22.00. Simple enough, right?

Of course not.

First, she looked confused and asked me if $22 was “right.” After I told her it was, she enters it into the register – first pushing the $20 button, then clearing that and pressing 2-0-0-0-enter. As she’s putting the $1’s in the tray, she realizes she entered the wrong amount and says “Oh, shoot!” Then she runs to the drive-through area to get a calculator. To figure $22.00 – $6.82.

Once she has performed that act of mathematical genius, she starts getting my change. She gets the bills right – three $5 bills – but has trouble with the coins, first going for the quarters before realizing that’s not right, and then very obviously having to think about how many dimes, nickels, and pennies I’m supposed to get. When she finally hands me my change, it goes something like this:

“$15.18 is your change. I think. I hope. Is that right?”

I nod and say “That’s right.”

“You’d tell me if it was wrong, right?”


(Jokingly) “You’re sure? You wouldn’t lie to me, right?”


At which point I went to fill my drink, because I was tired of dealing with her, and because I can only smile and nod for so long before losing my mind.

I mean, since when does something as simple as making change require a calculator? That’s 3rd grade math! We even had fake bills and plastic coins when I learned it!

I weep for our nation’s future.


Leave a comment


  1. BGMiller

     /  February 18, 2011

    It either amazes or freaks out the young apprentices that I deal with on occasion when I figure tax in my head, scale recipes in my head, or figure food cost with nothing more than an invoice and a production sheet. Oh and a slightly far away look I’ve been told…

    When the great calamity befalls I take pride in the fact that I will be a Morlock.


    • Heh. I’ve had a few younger EMT’s and even medics have that same reaction when I do drug dosage or drip rate calculations in my head. Sometimes, I can understand it – some of the calculations can get a little twisty – but something like converting pounds to kilograms is ridiculously simple.

      Sadly, it took her probably 2 or 3 minutes, using a calculator, to figure out something that took me all of 2 or 3 seconds to work out. And she still wasn’t sure she was right.

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