Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Making Change

Why can't people make change any more without the cash register telling them the answer? I was paying for my lunch the other day and the check-out person was making change the way I do: by starting with the amount and adding coins up to the next denomination. For example, if my lunch was $4.35 (yeah, right!) and I paid for it with a $10 bill, then change would be a nickel (to get to 40) and a dime (50), then 50 more cents (75, a dollar) to get to $5, then a $5 bill to get to $10. Done. I congratulated her on knowing how to do that, and she just laughed. Apparently she and I are the two remaining people in the world who make change this way.

I sell cards at a Farmers Market every Saturday from May - October, and I make a lot of change. Most people just take it, but one woman stood there looking very puzzled. She'd paid for a $7.68 amount with a $20 bill, so I took two pennies (69, 70), then a nickle (75), then a quarter (8), then two singles (10), then a 10 and handed it to her. She stared at me and asked, "What are you doing?" Making change. It's not like I had a cash register or anything, so how else would one make change?

When my kids were little, I taught them the "old fashioned" way of making change by paying for small items with very large bills when playing Monopoly. I'd pay for a $120 property with a $500 bill, even though I had the correct amount in smaller bills. Hey, I was teaching a lesson, here! They'd roll their eyes and walk though it. $120 plus what makes $200? 80. They'd take out 80 from the bank, starting with the tens: 120 plus 10 gives 130 ... 140 ... 150. Plus what makes 200? So they'd grab a 50. They now had $80 out, and were up to $200. Plus what makes 500? Three 100s would come out. Done. Okay, so 500 - 120 is what? 380. Right! My boys can make change today without a cash register or calculator to help them, and yes, I am very proud.

I am one of those people who pays for things with a little extra change, just to throw people off. If my total is $12.26 and I pay for it with a $20, I also give the cashier a penny. Then they stare at me. They have no concept of what I am trying to do besides make their life miserable. If I give them the penny, they can give me 75 cents change instead of 74, and that totally freaks them out, because the "answer" was 7.74. I usually explain it to them, they give me my change and then move on to the next customer, probably thinking I am a wacko. Too bad. Those people will never be able to work a table at a yard sale or craft fair because without the electronic gizmos, they are helpless.

And come to think of it, when someone just hands you change, how do they know it is the correct amount? Because the machine tells you it is right? What if it was rigged or something? Who'd ever know? *I* would!!

My kids grew up in a world with calculators, PDAs, cell phones and computers, and honestly, they do not know anything else. It would be like asking me to live without electricity, I guess. I am not asking them to give up the electronics, I just think it should be required for people to learn how to make change without the cash register to give them the answer.

1 comment:

Heather said...

You are 100% right- people definitely don't know how to count change. Lost art.