The Lost Art of Giving Change

Here’s something which makes me amused, in a carnal sort of way.

When my order comes to, say, $5.23, and I give the checkout girl (or guy) a ten-dollar bill and a quarter, it freaks her out. She can’t figure how to give me change.

Doing math in your head, like cursive writing, is becoming a lost art.

In high school and college, I worked in a grocery store–Pixley Foodmart in Pixley, Calif. I’ve never seen checkout lines work as fast as ours did. We blazed along–and without scanners!

Our cashier machines told us the total amount, but not how much change to give. We had to do that in our heads.

We looked on a chart to determine the amount of tax. In weighing produce, another chart. A number didn’t magically appear on a screen for everyone to see. Only I, running the cash register, saw the amount I was plugging into the cash register.

One night 15 minutes before closing, I was the last cashier, I had a line of about 20 customers stretching toward the back of the store, and I had no pennies left. And I didn’t want to ask the office for a new roll of pennies. So I improvised.

I went through every customer, making sure the amount ended on a 5 or 0, so I didn’t need to use pennies. I just mentally adjusted the amount of tax I charged, or maybe the amount I used for produce. The final amount that appeared on the cash register was always divisible by nickels.

I did this all so fast that nobody suspected anything.

Let’s see TODAY’s youth pull that off!

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1 Comment to "The Lost Art of Giving Change"

  1. I never could do math but I was a good babysitter.

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