Thursday, December 1, 2011

Four Cents

It began with a simple trip to Michael's for yarn to finish a scarf I was knitting. But as we all know things don't always go as planned, do they?

If you've never heard about Michael's and its sister competitor A.C. Moore, they are the crafting meccas for hard-core crafters. Luckily, I am not a hard core crafter. I can go months without stepping foot in either store but when I do, I usually have a goal in mind.

Of course, the yarn department is at the furthest corner of the store so I put on my imaginary crafting blinders and make it safety to the yarn without anything in my hands not related to my visit. I pick out four skeins and make it to the checkout without being lured, seduced, sabotaged or blindsided by some new craft technique or product.

The cashier rings up the yarn and the total is $23.96. I hand her $24. She enters the amount and the cash drawer glides open. I watch as she makes change only to realize she's about the hand me much more than I'm entitled to.

"What are you doing," I ask.

"Getting your change," she replies.

"But that's the wrong change." And then she says something I will never, ever forget.

"But the machine says I owe you two dollars and forty-four cents," she responds.

I can't believe what I'm hearing! My brain frantically searches its memory banks on how to convince, and eventually explain why she's giving me the wrong change. What's even scarier is she isn't a 20-something, gum chewing, hair twirling, Facebook and Twitter addicted individual, she's an older woman who should know how to make change without "the machine" telling her.

I look down on the counter and there's the receipt for the yarn. I turn it around and point to the $23.96, and say, "Here's the total and here's what I gave you," as I point to the $24. "The difference between the two is four cents, not two dollars and forty-four cents."

"But the machine says," she continues again.

My brain launches into battle station mode but not before an evil little voice says, "You know that $2.44 will go a long way for your favorite drink, a Starbucks Grande Caramel Frappaccino!" Oh does "the voice" know how to push my buttons. I shake my head to oust him and decide to do the right thing and fight fire with fire.

"But the machine is wrong and if you don't have this cash register looked at you're going to lose hundreds of dollars before the day is finished." By now we're both flustered and I can see she doesn't know what to do.

"Please, trust me, my change is four cents." She finally gives me four cents, puts the yarn in a bag and out the door I go.

Sadly this is not the first time I've tried to help someone when they've given me the wrong change. It happens more often than it should. And I almost always meet with resistence when I point this out and it's beginning to wear me down. But I've learned several things on this shopping trip.

I now understand the cliché, "No good deed goes unpunished."

Years ago I unilaterally declared myself Poster Woman for the Mathematically Challenged. I am happy to report I've stepped down from this honor because I realize there are people whose math skills are far worse than mine.

While this sounds funny, it really isn't because it means our educational system isn't doing a good job at teaching rudimentary math skills and we're relying way too much on technology to give us the answers.

However, the next time someone wants to give me the wrong change, I'm going to accept with a smile, walk out the door, and beat feet to Starbucks!

Or . . . maybe not.



Lynn said...

Maaaan...don't you hate that? When I worked retail, I wasn't allowed to count out the change into the customers hand. I had to say whatever the machine said, "2.44," and count it as "2.44," not "2.96 and .04 cents is $24," which is the CORRECT way and which, when I made a mistake and reverted back to the proper way to count change was appreciated by the customer, because they knew exactly what they were getting and that it was correct. It looks like the cashier accidentally typed in cash tender twice, although where she got 2.40 from is a mystery.

And now I'm blathering. So I guess I'll continue with where I WAS going before I decided to check on blogs (for the second day in a row--it's a miracle!), and head to the grocery store. I'll try not to angle park...

Anonymous said...

And don't ever give them the change after they've put in the dollar amount or all hell breaks out and confusion will rein the rest of their little old day!

I've been working with my grandchildren, trying to get them to understand money so that this does not happen to them.