Thursday, September 16, 2010
Last night before my hair appointment I stopped at Wendy’s for an extra little shot of caffeine (which I'm guessing was one of the reasons I was still awake at 3:40 this morning…). Nevertheless, I ordered a Diet Coke and a hamburger from the dollar menu.
My total bill came to two dollars and ninety-one cents, so I handed the kid a twenty dollar bill and a penny. My wallet was already bulging – sadly, not with paper money other than the twenty. But I had so much change in the coin section that I could barely close my wallet and the last thing I wanted was more pennies to stuff into it. I figured it could handle one thin dime.
Little did I know that I would cause the poor kid working the drive-thru window at Wendy’s so much angst. I was busy settling my dinner (such as it was) on the passenger seat and the drink in the cup holder while I waited for my change. And waited. And waited some more. Finally, I looked up to see the kid flapping his hands around and saying in a panicky voice, “I can’t do the math! I can’t do the math!”
A group of sympathetic coworkers quickly gathered around him while they all tried to figure out the answer to $20.01 minus $2.91. Surprisingly, the cash register didn’t automatically figure out the correct change – or perhaps he didn’t enter the penny when it was handed to him.
All three of his coworkers had furrowed brows and confused expressions on their faces, which struck me as a little comical. I tried not to laugh while attempting to give them the correct answer. None of them, of course, was paying a bit of attention to me while they whispered amongst themselves.
Just as I was about to start digging for correct change to make his life happy again, a manager a little closer to my age walked over to, well, manage. He quickly did the math and told them the jackpot answer. I noticed that he, too, had a furrowed brow and a confused expression on his face, but I suspect he was wondering what sort of math kids are being taught in school these days.
Probably when it involves uneven numbers, they simply whip out their cell phone and use the handy calculator function. Or maybe actual math classes have been replaced with demonstrations on how to swipe debit and credit cards.
Now I’m acting all smug here like I’m a veritable math genius. Nope; couldn’t be further from the truth. Just ask Vince. He’s always trying to give me hints and tips on how to do quick math calculations while I desperately search for my calculator or start counting on my fingers.
And had I been in this kid’s situation, I might’ve done a bit of hand flapping myself. However, when I was in high school I was intelligent enough to realize that numbers were not my forte and I should probably avoid any industry in which cash registers were involved.
Eventually, I became better at adding and subtracting and figuring out the tax on an item so I’d know my out-the-door price. It makes me look a little less “math-challenged” when I walk up to the cash register.
But maybe I should apologize to the kid at Wendy’s for causing him such consternation. And I should probably also apologize to all the math teachers out there who try to teach actual math to their students. Probably I owe a big apology to any of my own former math teachers for having to put up with me.
Yet I have to admit that I was rather proud of myself last night for being able to quickly figure out how much I had to hand the kid if I didn’t want to receive a bunch of pennies back.
But next time? I think I’ll use my debit card. No math required.