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?