Friday, December 02, 2005

It's a Lost Art

Alright, I know this has nothing directly to do with being a momma, beyond the fact that, as the momma, I spend lots of time at the grocery. Or the department store. Or the Starbucks drive-thru. But still it's valid and that's why I'm bothering.

Whatever happened to counting back change? It absolutely makes my blood boil when some gum-chewing dull-eyed half-wit just plops a handful of coin and paper into my hand. blam. take it or leave it. thanks for nothin'. are you still here?

It seems as though the digital cash registers of today have removed the thinking from the process by telling the cashier the right amount to give back. (Check your brain at the door, please.) A great disservice if you ask me.

Yes, it's wonderful that you can now move 12 customers instead of 7 through your line in 15 minutes. Yes, I'm glad your cashiers are no longer standing there staring blankly at that open money drawer, wondering what to do next. That part of the transaction makes everyone uncomfortable. Still, this inevitable influx of technology doesn't exempt your employees from displaying the most basic of customer service responsibilities... to say nothing of second grade math skills.

Consider a recent experience I had with the jolliest of fellows at a local gas station.

"Three gallons of low-grade unleaded? 'zthat all? Why that'll barely keep your car running, ma'am. Ah. I see your minivan is powered by dual overhead hamsters, so maybe you'll be alright. Just remember to toss a handful of hamster feed down the heater vents once a week. Oh. Y'say you already knew that? Wonderful! Those little fellars'll most likely survive the winter then.

"Well, thank you Mrs. H, that'll be $15.47. Out of $20? Oh my, I'd better get my counterfeit detection marker. Never can be too careful. And I see you've got a van-load of babies --- shall I bring back a few lollipops as well? What's thatchya say? Babies don't eat lollipops? I did not know that. Well, maybe next time then.

"Okay, here ya go, that was fifteen forty-seven. Here's forty-eight, forty-nine, fifty, seventy-five, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, aaaaaaaaand twenty. Now you have a nice day, Mrs. H."

See? So simple. That young gas station attendant was so polite and engaging! He was very knowledgeable about the care and feeding of hamsters, although I worry about the health of his future children. But still he was careful to give back the correct amount of change, and he's proven that he's passed the second grade. I was so distracted by all those numbers flying about that I didn't even feel it when the oil company reached in and extracted my right kidney as payment for its crude.

You would think that a store owner or manager would quiz his or her employees on the giving of change. It would be in their best interest to do so, in my always humble opinion. But alas, many an employee with the Store Manager name tag has thrown change at me with the best of them.

I've recently taken to standing there in line (or sitting there, if it's the drive-thru) and manually counting the change back to myself out loud whenever some clod presents me with a sweaty fistful of mystery change. Hopefully the display isn't lost on the cashiers, although I know it annoys them. Especially at Starbucks! Apparently the super-trendy feel they're above such nonsense.

How rude! I can't believe she doesn't trust me. Hellooooo. Am I not excellently sporting my black "Expert Barista" apron?

Well, no Junior, I don't trust you. But don't be offended. I suspect you didn't complete the second grade as evidenced by your lack of basic counting skills, black apron not withstanding. I'm only looking out for you. If (or rather, when) your register comes up short today, you'll know it wasn't because you accidentally tossed a twenty at Mrs. H.

But if you did, I promise to spend it at Starbucks.


LoveALatte said...

Oh, we share so many peeves, girl. I especially luuuuuuuuuv the cashiers who, when their "system crashes" and the "registers are down" get that deer-in-the-headlights look on their faces and begin the frantic search for a calculator, an adding maching, an abacus... something! God forbid we just count the change UP! Of course, we can't expect them to show up, on time, make that complicated knot in the apron (behind the back, no less!) and still be able to do basic math, all the while contemplating the intricacies of, "You want biscotti with that?"

Anonymous said...

Consider a recent experience I had with the jolliest of fellows at a local gas station.
LOL how funny that never ever bothers me. I've worked those retail jobs when I was a kid and yes I was the one to give you change all at once. hehehe sorry! LOL

You have me cracking up and embarrassed at the same time.

Nov 03 board

The Momma Chronicles said...

Oh man, I'm sorry! Hope the laughter outweighed the offense? ;-)


Anonymous said...

I love that one Dellaina!
I agree so totally! I also hate that cashiers have lost the art of packing a bag. I learnt how to do this and stack my groceries in order for packing and they still get it wrong!!!

Anonymous said...

Dellaina - You didn't offend me at all! LOL I just never realize I did that before and when I did that I might be bothering other people. :) Well at least I don't have a job where I have to count change anymore! hahaha

Nov 03 board

Anonymous said...

Thank you Dellaina for another dose of wit and charm :) Glad I could get another fix off your blog! You need to come to my grocery store and teach those cashiers and baggers a thing or two. Imagine you are purchasing an item for, oh, $6.50 and hand the cashier $10.50 so you can get back a nice even $4 and having them inform you that, "Ma'am you already gave me $10, here's the extra $.50". I didn't even bother to try to explain to the poor slug his error.

Anonymous said...


How true, how TRUE!! This never bothers me until it happens, and then it just blows my mind!!

My big pet peeve is the total confusion sign writers display when it comes to such a simple mark as the apostrophe.

Whatever their reason's, it always happen's that the apostrophe's are put in ONLY in place's where they dont belong, and left out of one's where they DO.


Kristina R.
(Jupiter'sOlive from Babycenter)

The Momma Chronicles said...

I personally love it when I see Happy Holiday's on billboards all over town. grr.

Adrianne said...

Loved it! Funny, I have no clue how to count back change. Good thing I will never have to!

Anonymous said...

I stopped for 5 minutes at your first paragraph - we don't have a Starbucks drivethrough in any of the dozens and dozens of Starbucks here!! I didn't even know they existed. I'm jealous.

Too funny about your peeve. It's not something that has bothered me or I had really paid any attention to. Until now!! Thanks. I'm really bad about counting my change, I usually don't. I just sort of keep track as they're taking it out of the till but that's about it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the laugh, Dellaina! I, too, am annoyed by the change-plopping cretins at Starbucks. Not to mention the incorrect usage of apostrophes. I would boycott places with grammatically tragic signage, but then I would never be able to purchase apple's or banana's or grape's from ANY of my local grocers again!

Anonymous said...


Just wanted to share with you...I went to Walgreens last night and purchased $23 worth of stuff with a $100 bill. The cashier plunked the money down on the counter. I was holding my eight-month old and had to double count the money one handed on the counter.

I don't know why I didn't just tell him to count it back to me. Didn't want to look grinchy at Christmas, I guess.

(Why do I care what a 17 year old checker at Walgreens thinks of me, anyways? Sigh.)

Kristina R.

Anonymous said...

OK, dlh, this is my first comment on your website but this is so funny. I could just tell you, I know, but this way your other friends can read it as well. :-)

It was just another day at the new Wal-Mart by my house. I bought some video tapes and the total came to $5.91. Easy enough so far, one would think.

Then I did it. I gave her 6 bucks and one penny -- I didn't have enough for exact change. BUT I didn't want any more pennies - who does? So as easy as it seems to pick up my receipt AND a dime from the till, this gal who I don't think spoke english, stared for at least 20 seconds at the receipt before moving. I wasn't even sure she was breathing, to tell the truth.
She kept staring, I kept waiting, and finally she picked up the receipt (nope, not dead, just very confused), looked again, and gave me the receipt along with the dime she very carefully took out of the register. I think she thought I was pulling one over on her. Actually, I was standing there, screaming to myself, "a dime! a dime! really, that's all I want! In fact, KEEP the stinking dime! I need to GO! PLEEEAAASE!" I guess the only reason I didn't just leave, is that I'm very cheap. I mean frugal. Every dime counts!

So after having recently read the change counting blog, I felt your pain and suffering even that much more.

Love you, friend!


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