DUMB RANT: Cashiers

I am a cash-only person. There are two reasons for this, which I’d rather not get in to right now. I’ll use a credit or debit card when dining out sometimes, especially if the check hasn’t been divided in advance – it’s much easier to just hand the waitress a Visa and say “put the burger, turkey sandwich, the Bass Ales and Shock Tops on my tab, everything else is on [the other couple’s tab]”. But if I’m buying something in a store, a fast food place, or a bar, 99.999999% of the time I’ll use cash.

So… the missus and I were on vacation recently, and twice a cashier accidentally “hit the exact change button”, meaning that the register didn’t tell her how much change to give me. In both cases, the cashiers panicked and looked furiously for a calculator. The first time it was a young white female, and she had a calculator handy, so it didn’t take her long to figure it out. But the second time the cashier spent a full two minutes looking through every drawer at the checkout stand for a calculator. She even called over to another cashier for help in finding a calculator! I was so tempted to say something, but since she was a young black female, I didn’t want to be the “old white man telling her how to do her job”. So I waited, almost amused by the whole thing.

I don’t know what’s worse… the fact that employers don’t train cashiers worth a damn these days, or the fact that neither of those two young women could figure out on their own the age-old practice of counting up change.

See ladies, it works like this: at one store, my total was $13.42, and I handed the cashier a $20 bill. All you have to do to make change is count up from the total to the amount of money the customer hands you. So you’d take my total ($13.42) and put three pennies in your hand (to make it $13.45). You’d then put a nickel in your hand (to make it $13.50), then put two quarters in your hand (to make it $14.00). You’d then put a dollar bill in your hand (to make it $15), then put a $5 bill in your hand (to make it $20). You’d then have $6.58 in your hand which, if you want to figure it out on a calculator, is the correct amount of change for that transaction. No calculator is needed… at all. Trust me: it works. Millions of your cashier ancestors used that method for decades before registers even showed you how much change to give the customer!

And while I’m on the subject, a few times in the recent past I’ve gotten the stink eye from cashiers for giving them “odd amounts” of money. You know the drill: Maybe your total is $5.52, and you give the cashier $11.02 so you can get $5.50 back in nice, even bills and coins. It’s like they’re paralyzed with fear and confusion. But fear not… the same system works here, too! Just subtract the 2¢ I gave you… put two quarters in your hand (to make $6) and then put a $5 in your hand to make $11. See? Was that so hard?

Am I alone here? Is it just me? I might be a little different because my father owned a wholesale grocery store and he often worked the register there. So as a kid I had a lot of toy cash registers and grocery store playsets. My dad taught me early on how to count money. I could be exaggerating, but I could swear I knew how to count up from the time I was 4 or 5 years old… and here are these teenage girls apparently unaware of even the concept of such a thing. Am I the lone voice in the wilderness here, or are teen cashiers even stupider today than they were 20 years ago?

3 Replies to “DUMB RANT: Cashiers”

  1. You might want to re-visit the math in your second example. No wonder cashiers give you the stinkeye. 🙂

  2. As a cashier, I can say we’re honestly not trained to count up. We rely on the registers to make our change because it speeds up the process. Though those two cases you mentioned were extreme, I have to admit I’ve had a few times where I’ve blanked out when I hit the wrong button, or a customer hands me change after I’ve already totaled out the transaction. Math has never been my strong point, but it always takes me a second to do the math in my head.

    But like I said I was never taught to count up. In your example, 13.42 out of 20, I know that since there’s change on the dollar (.42), then I need to subtract one dollar from 20-13 (making it 6), and then I do 100-42 to figure out the change (.58). It’s a bit backwards, but that’s how I learned to do it quickly in my head. I personally hate it when that happens as much as the customers do, it makes me feel like I’m an idiot, and I’m always sure the customers are judging/laughing at me in their heads because it takes me a little extra time to count their change.

    Those two cashiers you dealt with were just ridiculous though. It would have been quicker to just feed some receipt paper and do it by hand.

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