Monday, May 22, 2006

Lamenting the lost art of making change.

Given that I'm a frequenter of neither strip clubs nor video arcades, I like to carry as few ones in my wallet as possible. To be more specific, I try to keep no more than four one-dollar bills in my wallet at a time. Thus, I'll throw some ones on top of a larger bill during a retail transaction if it will mean I'll get a larger bill and no ones in return.

There was a time, not too long ago, that this transaction was not only accepted, but it was expected. I'd be charged $16.57, I'd give the clerk a $20 bill and two ones, and the clerk would give me a $5 dollar bill and 43 cents in return. On the rarest of occasions it would take a few seconds longer as the clerk did the mental math, but I always got the correct change.

Today, however, nine times out of 10 my $20 and $1 and $1 is met with one of the following:

1. Clerk gives me the two $1 bills back and says, "It was only $16.57."

2. Clerk gives me some completely random amount of change that has no logic attached to it.

3. Clerk stares at the bills, stares at the register screen, stares into the money drawer and stares at me before saying, "I'm not good when people give me more than they need to."

4. Clerk gives me the correct change, BUT GIVES ME FIVE $1 BILLS INSTEAD OF A $5 BILL.

What the hell happened?

I'll tell you what happened. Kids don't have to use their freaking brains to do simple math anymore. They use calculators and computers to add two plus three. Hell, the registers even do the math for them. They punch in the amount tendered and give the change that the screen tells them. They're working retail and they don't know how to make change.

Other skills to lament the loss of:

Telling time on "old fashioned" clocks with hour and minute hands.
Writing things out by hand.

Any more?


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