Why You Need To Know Math

20 06 2008

This week I overheard a conversation that made me ashamed of my generation.  I felt like I aged 20 years and was looking at two young people (roughly my age) in disbelief.

I was in a retail store with my wife, and I had a cashier call other stores to check stock on an item.  As I was waiting for my answer, a woman (around 25) walked up to the register with an item.  It rang up as $8.50.

She turned to the cashier, “This was marked as 50% off.”

“Oh,” replied the cashier who was in his early 20s, “ok, I’ll just make an adjustment,”  He the proceeded to ring up the item again.

“That’s not right” said the woman.  “50% of $8.50…$4.50.”

At this point I would have been alright, people make mistakes, but I was still biting my tongue.

The cashier thinks about it, and then REACHES FOR A CALCULATOR!  At this point I couldn’t take it any more, and proceeded to make an ass out of myself.

“Uhhh…$4.25,” I interjected.

Both parties, thought about it for what seemed like at least a minute, and I got a combined “Oh yeah.”

I should have stopped at that, but for some reason, unknown to me, I had to continue with the smartass comment of “yep, gotta love that elementary math!”  

I immediately felt like a huge ass, I apologized, and left the store.

Now, I know I was an asshole and I probably should have kept my mouth shut, but really?  Needing a calculator for something like that?  Are we really a generation that can’t do remedial math in their heads?  Are we that reliant on technology that we can’t think for ourselves?

How can you expect to budget while you shop if you can’t do things like that?  I love sale racks (who doesn’t?) but I always have an understanding of what I will be charged before I pay.  That way I know if the cashier makes a mistake in ringing me up, it’s a basic way to save money, and a skill that everyone should have, if you don’t watch out for your own wallet no one will!  Yes, this issue was over a quarter, but imagine if it was a higher ticket item?



9 responses

21 06 2008

I overheard this at the gym a couple years ago:

“Wow, fruit smoothies are 50% off! Only $2.50.”

“How much are they normally?”

(But wait, it gets worse…)

“How am I supposed to know? I hardly ever come to the juice bar.”

22 06 2008
That Saddity Chic

Sounds like something Iwould have said.

23 06 2008

It really is embarassing to see that go on. At least the lady was paying enough attention to see that it should be discounted and was not rung up correctly.

I have been to a store, the item was 50% off then the store was running a special that took over another 30%. The clerk didn’t know what to do so just rang it up 80% off, I guess I should have corrected them.

23 06 2008

@ Mark, That’s pretty funny. At least in that instance it could be played off as having a mental lapse. Everyone has their stupid moments (God knows I do!).

@ Saddity Chic, haha, so I guess you say things without thinking too!

@ Philip, The % off of a % off is confusing for even people who are good at math!

23 06 2008

i’ve seen people use their fingers, use a calculator for simple addition/subtraction and i even helped a cashier once to figure out how much change she owed since it was a mom&pop establishment and they don’t always ring up items in the register to avoid paying taxes.

yesterday i took my daughter to CEC and overheard two employees talking about how a cashier rang up a girl for two ice cream cones for $10.00 when the sign clearly states $.99. apparently, the girl in question had slept with the cashier’s bf. the thing that baffled me is that the girl PAID the $10.00.

26 06 2008

I guess their so bad in math because of excel or calculators. There might be something unessential in math, so they externalise the function.
Now, just think about the search of information on google, will we externalise our knowledge or memory while developping treatment capacity?

30 06 2008

This bugs me all the time. Most of the time I just sit and wait for them to figure it out or call someone over to figure it out, but come on. Pretty funny story.

11 07 2008

It even applies to history. I was at Office Max with a friend when our cashier totaled up my purchase. “That’ll be $19.41,” she said. My friend and I said…at the same time…”a date that will live in infamy.” She looked puzzled so I asked her if she knew the significance of 1941. She thought for a minute and said excitedly, “That’s when Columbus came over!” My jaw dropped, so she tried to recover and said, “Oh wait, that was 1841.” There was an older man behind me who just shook his head.

I guarantee she knew who won American Idol though.

12 07 2008

I do simple calculations at work for my co workers and they think I am some god. They give me this face of awe and I give them a look of “are you just that stupid?” I mean seriously… We lived without technology a long time ago and we lived fine!

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