Thursday, July 14, 2011
Everything went swimmingly until I got my change back. The tiny window attendant stood on her tip-toes to reach out the window to hand me my change. She had it all stacked up in the following order: Bills on the bottom, then the receipt, and all the loose change on top. Now I'm sitting in my serial-killer truck (link) with my arm extended, holding a tower of change. I slowly bend my elbow to get my arm in the window, and all the change slides off the receipt and falls on the ground. And no, I do not have motor skill issues.
The cashier pretends she didn't see, and quickly shuts the window. I try to open my door, but I am too close to the window. Just then a car pulls up behind me. Grrr! What to do? Nope. I didn't have any answers either. So I pulled around again. Hey, it was almost a buck! That'll pay for my afternoon beverage!
I pulled up to the microphone and a cheery voice asked if I would like to try the "spicy chicken combo" (at 7:00am) I said no thanks, and pulled up behind the car that was behind me. When they left, I pulled up, as far to the right edge of the lane as I could. Then I got out of the truck. Once again, the girl quickly shut the window, but this time she looked a little worried. I scooped up the change on the ground, got back in my truck and drove to work.
At a stoplight, I checked the change to see if I found it all. I did. In addition, I got an extra quarter, a dime and two pennies. Whoo-hoo! I figure the extra 37¢ was how much it cost to drive around the building the extra time. And I knew I was not alone.
The Book of Mormon talks about "Slippery Riches" but I don't think this is what Samuel the Lamanite had in mind (Helaman 13:31). Since when did stacking the coins on top of the bills become the common way to give change? It makes no sense. My hand is built to hold coins in the palm, leaving my fingers free to grab bills and receipts.
I remember back in the olden days when I worked grocery and retail, we were taught to give change back carefully, and narrate the process. If the bill was $2.50, and they gave me a Five, I would count it back like this:
The total was $2.50. Here is 2.75 and 3, (Putting two quarters in the palm of their hand)
and here is 4 and 5 (Putting two dollar bills in their hand)
Is that so difficult?
Yeah, I think it is. I'm afraid that a lot of people don't have the math chops to actually do this accurately. Unfortunately, when you get your change in a stack, you have no idea if it is correct. You either have to stop and count it with the cashier watching (and the people behind you waiting), or you just take their word for it and move on - balancing the stack as you leave the counter. The problem is, the change is often wrong. It happens to me all the time. I give a twenty, they treat it as a ten. They give too many, or two few dollars back. I'm not cranky enough to stop them and make them do it right, but I do watch very carefully and try and catch it when it happens.
Oh yeah. Debit card. Nevermind.